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ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

From a photograph made at Springfield soon after his nomination for 

President 



STAR 



A 



BOOK 



Abraham Lincoln 



BY LORD CHARNWOOD 



GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK 



GARDEN CITY PUBLISHING CO., INC. 



*- 



COPYRIGHT, 1917 
BY 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 



PRINTED IN THE U. S. A. 



GENERAL EDITOR'S PREFACE 

Statesmen — even the greatest — have rarely won the 
same unquestioning recognition that falls to the great 
warriors or those supreme in science, art or literature. 
Not in their own lifetime and hardly to this day have 
the claims to supremacy of our own Oliver Cromwell, 
William III. and Lord Chatham rested on so sure a 
foundation as those of a Marlborough or a Nelson, a 
Newton, a Milton or a Hogarth. This is only natural. 
A warrior, a man of science, an artist or a poet are 
judged in the main by definite achievements, by the 
victories they have won over foreign enemies or over 
ignorance and prejudice, by the joy and enlightenment 
they have brought to the consciousness of their own 
and succeeding generations. For the statesman there 
is no such exact measure of greatness. The greater he 
is, the less likely is his work to be marked by decisive 
achievement which can be recalled by anniversaries or 
signalised by some outstanding event: the chief work 
of a great statesman rests in a gradual change of direc- 
tion given to the policy of his people, still more in a 
change of the spirit within them. Again, the statesman 
must work with a rough and ready instrument. The 
soldier finds or makes his army ready to yield unhesitat- 
ing obedience to his commands, the sailor animates his 
fleet with his own personal touch, and the great man in 
art, literature or science is master of his material, if he 
can master himself. The statesman cannot mould a 
heterogeneous people, as the men of a well-disciplined 
army or navy can be moulded, to respond to his call and 
his alone. He has to do all his work in a society of which 
a large part cannot see his object and another large part, 
as far as they do see it, oppose it. Hence his work at 

iii 



iv GENERAL EDITOR'S PREFACE 

the best is often incomplete and he has to be satisfied 
with a rough average rather than with his ideal. 

Lincoln, one of the few supreme statesmen of the last 
three centuries, was no exception to this rule. He was 
misunderstood and underrated in his lifetime, and even 
yet has hardly come to his own. For his place is among 
the great men of the earth. To them he belongs by 
right of his immense power of hard work, his unfaltering 
pursuit of what seemed to him right, and above all by 
that childlike directness and simplicity of vision which 
none but the greatest carry beyond their earliest years. 
It is fit that the first considered attempt by an Englishman 
to give a picture of Lincoln, the great hero of America's 
struggle for the noblest cause, should come at a time 
when we in England are passing through as fiery a trial 
for a cause we feel to be as noble. It is a time when we 
may learn much from Lincoln's failures and success, from 
his patience, his modesty, his serene optimism and his 
eloquence, so simple and so magnificent. 

BASIL WILLIAMS. 

Biscot Camp, 
Luton, 

March, 1916. 



CONTENTS 

PAGP 

General Editor's Preface .. • • .. •• »• :. iii 

CHAP. 

I. Boyhood of Lincoln • . . . ... •. i 

II. The Growth of the American Nation . . 16 

1. The Formation of a National Government • 16 

2. Territorial Expansion ..... 26 

3. The Growth of the Practice and Traditions of 

the Union Government . . • . . 28 

4. The Missouri Compromise 35 

5. Leaders, Parties, and Tendencies in Lincoln's 

Youth : . 40 

6. Slavery and Southern Society « E « .. » 52 

7. Intellectual Development • • ( « m :« 59 

III. Lincoln's Early Career • . r « ( « » 62 

1. Life at New Salem . .< . r . • >»- 62 

2. In the Illinois Legislature . ♦ . r « r. 69 

3. Marriage 77 

IV. Lincoln in Congress and in Retirement . . 90 

1; The Mexican War and Lincoln's Work in 

Congress . . . . . r. 90 

2. California and the Compromise of 1850 . 96 

3. Lincoln in Retirement . . . . .101 

4. The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise . 109 

V. The Rise of Lincoln . . . . . .116 

1. Lincoln's Return to Public Life . . . 116 

2. The Principles and the Oratory of Lincoln . 122 

3. Lincoln against Douglas . -. . . .137 

4. John Brown ., ; . 150 

5« The Election of Lincoln as President w M 155 

v 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAP. 

VI. Secession . . . . . r .-. w w 
i. The Case of the South against the Union 

2. The Progress of Secession .... 

3. The Inauguration of Lincoln . 

4. The Outbreak of War . « 

VII. The Conditions of the War 

VIII. The Opening of the War and Lincoln's 
Administration 

1. Preliminary Stages of the War . . ,; 

2. Bull Run . . . . . •; r ;r 

3. Lincoln's Administration Generally . 

4. Foreign Policy and England . 

5. The Great Questions of Domestic Policy 

IX. The Disasters of the North . r . t . 
i f Military Policy of the North . 

2. The War in the West up to May, 1862 

3. The War in the East up to May, 1863 

X. Emancipation . ■• r . :.- »j m 

XI. The Approach of Victory . . h m 

1. The War to the End of 1863 . t. w 

2. Conscription and the Politics of 1863 ^ 

3. The War in 1864 

4. The Second Election of Lincoln: 1864 t. 

XII. The End . . . . . ; . ;. ;. 
Bibliographical Note . . -., !,-. ,. 1. ; . 
Chronological Table . . !., w /.i w -'• 

INDEX . • • 'o .'•' r»i w r»i w j»' 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN 



CHAPTER I 

BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN 

The subject of this memoir is revered by multitudes 
of his countrymen as the preserver of their common- 
wealth. This reverence has grown with the lapse of time 
and the accumulation of evidence. It is blended with a 
peculiar affection, seldom bestowed upon the memory of 
statesmen. It is shared to-day by many who remember 
with no less affection how their own fathers fought 
against him. He died with every circumstance of tragedy, 
yet it is not the accident of his death but the purpose of 
his life that is remembered. 

Readers of history in another country cannot doubt 
that the praise so given is rightly given; yet any bare 
record of the American Civil War may leave them 
wondering why it has been so unquestioningly accorded. 
The position and task of the American President in that 
crisis cannot be understood from those of other historic 
rulers or historic leaders of a people; and it may seem 
as if, after that tremendous conflict in which there was 
no lack of heroes, some perverse whim had made men 
single out for glory the puzzled civil magistrate who sat 
by. Thus when an English writer tells again this tale, 
which has been well told already and in which there can 
remain no important new facts to disclose, he must en- 
deavour to make clear to Englishmen circumstances and 
conditions which are familiar to Americans. He will 
incur the certainty that here and there his own perspec- 
tive of American affairs and persons will be false, or his 
own touch unsympathetic. He had better do this than 



2 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

chronicle sayings and doings which to him and to those 
for whom he writes have no significance. Nor should 
the writer shrink too timidly from the display of a 
partisanship which, on one side or the other, it would 
be insensate not to feel. The true obligation of Im- 
partiality is that he should conceal no fact which, in his 
own mind, tells against his views. 

Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United 
States of America, was born on February 12, 1809, in 
a log cabin on a barren farm in the backwoods of 
Kentucky, about three miles west of a place called 
Hodgensville in what is now La Rue County. 

Fifty years later when he had been nominated for 
the Presidency he was asked for material for an account 
of his early life. "Why," he said, "it is a great folly 
to attempt to make anything out of me or my early life. 
It can all be condensed into a single sentence; and that 
sentence you will find in Gray's ' Elegy \ : — 

" - The short and simple annals of the poor.' 

That's my life, and that's all you or anyone else can 
make out of it." His other references to early days were 
rare. He would repeat queer reminiscences of the back- 
woods to illustrate questions of state; but of his own 
part in that old life he spoke reluctantly and sadly. 
Nevertheless there was once extracted from him an awk- 
ward autobiographical fragment, and his friends have 
collected and recorded concerning his earlier years quite 
as much as is common in great men's biographies or can 
as a rule be reproduced with its true associations. Thus 
there are tales enough of the untaught student's perse- 
verance, and of the boy giant's gentleness and prowess; 
tales, too, more than enough in proportion, of the fun 
which varied but did not pervade his existence, and of 
the young rustic's occasional and somewhat oafish pranks. 
But, in any conception we may form as to the growth of 
his mind and character, this fact must have its place, 
that to the man himself the thought of his early life was 
unattractive, void of self-content over the difficulties 



BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN 3 

which he had conquered, and void of romantic fondness 
for vanished joys of youth. 

Much the same may be said of his ancestry and family 
connections. Contempt for lowly beginnings, abhorrent 
as it is to any honest mind, would to Lincoln's mind have 
probably been inconceivable, but he lacked that interest 
in ancestry which is generally marked in his countrymen, 
and from talk of his nearer progenitors he seems to have 
shrunk with a positive sadness of which some causes will 
soon be apparent. Since his death it has been ascertained 
that in 1638 one Samuel Lincoln of Norwich emigrated 
to Massachusetts. Descent from him could be claimed 
by a prosperous family in Virginia, several of whom 
fought on the Southern side in the Civil War. One 
Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of the President and 
apparently a grandson of Samuel, crossed the mountains 
from Virginia in 1780 and settled his family in Kentucky, 
of which the nearer portions had recently been explored. 
One morning four years later he was at work near his 
cabin with Mordecai, Josiah, and Thomas, his sons, when 
a shot from the bushes near by brought him down. 
Mordecai ran to the house, Josiah to a fort, which was 
close to them. Thomas, aged six, stayed by his father's 
body. Mordecai seized a gun and, looking through the 
window, saw an Indian in war paint stooping to pick up 
Thomas. He fired and killed the savage, and, when 
Thomas had run into the cabin, continued firing at others 
who appeared among the bushes. Shortly Josiah re- 
turned with soldiers from the fort, and the Indians ran 
off, leaving Abraham the elder dead. Mordecai, his 
heir-at-law, prospered. We hear of him long after as an 
old man of substance and repute in Western Illinois. He 
had decided views about Indians. The sight of a red- 
skin would move him to strange excitement; he would 
disappear into the bushes with his gun, and his conscience 
as a son and a sportsman would not be satisfied till he 
had stalked and shot him. We are further informed that 
he was a " good old man." Josiah also moved to Illinois, 
and it is pleasant to learn that he also was a good old 



4 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

man, and, as became a good old man, prospered pretty 
well. But President Lincoln and his sister knew neither 
these excellent elders nor any other of their father's 
kin. 

And those with whom the story of his own first twenty- 
one years is bound up invite almost as summary treat- 
ment. Thomas Lincoln never prospered like Mordecai 
and Josiah, and never seems to have left the impress of 
his goodness or of anything else on any man. But, while 
learning to carpenter under one Joseph Hanks, he mar- 
ried his employer's niece Nancy, and by her became the 
father first of a daughter Sarah, and four years later, at 
the farm near Hodgensville aforesaid, of Abraham, the 
future President. In 1816, after several migrations, he 
transported his household down the Ohio to a spot on 
the Indiana shore, near which the village of Gentryville 
soon sprang up. There he abode till Abraham was nearly 
twenty-one. When the boy was eight his mother died, 
leaving him in his sister's care; but after a year or so 
Thomas went back alone to Kentucky and, after brief 
wooing, brought back a wife, Sarah, the widow of one 
Mr. Johnston, whom he had courted vainly before her 
first marriage. He brought with her some useful addi- 
tions to his household gear, and her rather useless son 
John Johnston. Relatives of Abraham's mother and 
other old neighbours — in particular John and Dennis 
Hanks — accompanied all the family's migrations. Ulti- 
mately, in 1830, they all moved further west into Illinois. 
Meanwhile Abraham from an early age did such various 
tasks for his father or for neighbouring farmers as from 
time to time suited the father. When an older lad he 
was put for a while in charge of a ferry boat, and this 
led to the two great adventures of his early days, voyages 
with a cargo boat and two mates down by river to New 
Orleans. The second and more memorable of these 
voyages was just after the migration to Illinois. He 
returned from it to a place called New Salem, in Illinois, 
some distance from his father's new farm, in expectation 
of work in a store which was about to be opened. 



BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN 5 

Abraham, by this time, was of age, and in accordance 
with custom had been set free to shift for himself. 

Each of these migrations was effected with great labour 
in transportation of baggage (sometimes in home-made 
boats), clearing of timber, and building; and Thomas 
Lincoln cannot have been wanting in the capacity for 
great exertions. But historians have been inclined to be 
hard on him. He seems to have been without sustained 
industry; in any case he had not much money sense and 
could not turn his industry to much account. Some hint 
that he drank, but it is admitted that most Kentucky men 
drank more. There are indications that he was a dutiful 
but ineffective father, chastising not too often or too 
much, but generally on the wrong occasion. He was no 
scholar and did not encourage his son that way; but he 
had a great liking for stories. He was of a peaceable 
and inoffensive temper, but on great provocation would 
turn on a bully with surprising and dire consequences. 
Old Thomas, after Abraham was turned loose, continued 
a migrant, always towards a supposed better farm further 
west, always with a mortgage on him. Abraham, when 
he was a struggling professional man, helped him with 
money as well as he could. We have his letter to the 
old man on his death-bed, a letter of genuine but mild 
affection with due words of piety. He explains that 
illness in his own household makes it impossible for him 
to pay a last visit to his father, and then, with that 
curious directness which is common in the families of 
the poor and has as a rule no sting, he remarks that an 
interview, if it had been possible, might have given more 
pain than pleasure to both. Everybody has insisted from 
the first how little Abraham took after his father, but 
more than one of the traits attributed to Thomas will 
certainly reappear. 

Abraham, as a man, when for once he spoke of his 
mother, whom he very seldom mentioned, spoke with 
intense feeling for her motherly care. " I owe," he said, 
" everything that I am to her." It pleased him in this 
talk to explain by inheritance from her the mental quali- 



6 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

ties which distinguished him from the house of Lincoln, 
and from others of the house of Hanks. She was, he 
said, the illegitimate daughter of a Virginian gentleman, 
whose name he did not know, but from whom as he 
guessed the peculiar gifts, of which he could not fail to 
be conscious, were derived. 

Sarah his sister was married at Gentryville to one Mr. 
Grigsby. The Grigsbys were rather great people, as 
people went in Gentryville. It is said to have become 
fixed in the boy's mind that the Grigsbys had not treated 
Sarah well; and this was the beginning of certain woes. 

Sarah Bush Lincoln, his stepmother, was good to him 
and he to her. Above all she encouraged him in his early 
studies, to which a fretful housewife could have opposed 
such terrible obstacles. She lived to hope that he might 
not be elected President for fear that enemies should 
kill him, and she lived to have her fear fulfilled. His 
affectionate care over her continued to the end. She 
lived latterly with her son John Johnston. Abraham's 
later letters to this companion of his youth deserve to 
be looked up in the eight large volumes called his Works, 
for it is hard to see how a man could speak or act better 
to an impecunious friend who would not face his own 
troubles squarely. It is sad that the " ever your affec- 
tionate brother ] of the earlier letters declines to V yours 
sincerely " in the last; but it is an honest decline of affec- 
tion, for the man had proved to be cheating his mother, 
and Abraham had had to stop it. 

Two of the cousinhood, Dennis Hanks, a character of 
comedy, and John Hanks, the serious and steady char- 
acter of the connection, deserve mention. They and 
John Johnston make momentary reappearances again. 
Otherwise the whole of Abraham Lincoln's kindred are 
now out of the story. They have been disposed of thus 
hastily at the outset, not because they were discreditable 
or slight people, but because Lincoln himself when he 
began to find his footing in the world seems to have felt 
sadly that his family was just so much to him and no 
more. The dearest of his recollections attached to pre- 



BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN 7 

mature death; the next to chronic failure. Rightly or 
wrongly (and we know enough about heredity now to 
expect any guess as to its working in a particular case 
to be wrong) he attributed the best that he had inherited 
to a licentious connection and a nameless progenitor. 
Quite early he must have been intensely ambitious, and 
discovered in himself intellectual power; but from his 
twelfth year to his twenty-first there was hardly a soul 
to comprehend that side of him. This chill upon his 
memory unmistakably influenced the particular com- 
plexion of his melancholy. Unmistakably too he early 
learnt to think that he was odd, that his oddity was con- 
nected with his strength, that he might be destined to 
stand alone and capable of so standing. 

The life of the farming pioneer in what was then the 
Far West afforded a fair prospect of laborious inde- 
pendence. But at least till Lincoln was grown up, when 
a time of rapid growth and change set in, it offered no 
hope of quickly gotten wealth, and it imposed severe 
hardship on all. The country was thickly wooded; the 
settler had before him at the outset heavy toil in clearing 
the ground and in building some rude shelter, — a house 
or just a " half-faced camp," that is, a shed with one side 
open to the weather such as that in which the Lincoln 
family passed their first winter near Gentry ville. The 
site once chosen and the clearing once made, there was 
no such ease of cultivation or such certain fertility as 
later settlers found yet further west when the develop- 
ment of railways, of agricultural machinery, and of 
Eastern or European markets had opened out to cultiva- 
tion the enormous stretches of level grass plain beyond 
the Mississippi. 

Till population had grown a good deal, pioneer families 
were largely occupied in producing for themselves with 
their own hands what, in their hardy if not always frugal 
view, were the necessities and comforts of life. They 
had no Eastern market for their produce, for railways 
did not begin to be made till 1840, and it was many years 
before they crossed the Eastern mountains. An occa- 



8 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

sional cargo was taken on a flat-bottomed boat down the 
nearest creek, as a stream is called in America, into the 
Ohio and so by the innumerable windings of the Missis- 
sippi to New Orleans; but no return cargo could be 
brought up stream. Knives and axes were the most 
precious objects to be gained by trade; woollen fabrics 
were rare in the West, when Lincoln was born, and the 
white man and woman, like the red whom they had dis- 
placed, were chiefly dressed in deer skins. The woods 
abounded in game, and in the early stages of the develop- 
ment of the West a man could largely support himself by 
his gun. The cold of every winter is there great, and 
an occasional winter made itself long remembered, like 
the " winter of the deep snow " in Illinois, by the havoc 
of its sudden onset and the suffering of its long duration. 
The settling of a forest country was accompanied here 
as elsewhere by the occasional ravages of strange and 
destructive pestilences and the constant presence of 
malaria. Population was soon thick enough for occa- 
sional gatherings, convivial or religious, and in either 
case apt to be wild, but for long it was not thick enough 
for the life of most settlers to be other than lonely as 
well as hard. 

Abraham Lincoln in his teens grew very fast, and by 
nineteen he was nearly six foot four. His weight was 
never quite proportionate to this. His ungainly figure, 
with long arms and large hands and relatively small 
development of chest, and the strange deep-cut linea- 
ments of his face were perhaps the evidence of unfit 
(sometimes insufficient) food in these years of growth. 
But his muscular strength was great, and startling statisti- 
cal tales are told of the weight he could lift and the force 
of his blows with a mallet or an axe. To a gentle and 
thoughtful boy with secret ambition in him such strength 
is a great gift, and in such surroundings most obviously 
so. Lincoln as a lad was a valuable workman at the 
varied tasks that came his way, without needing that 
intense application to manual pursuits which the bent of 
his mind made irksome to him. And he was a person 



BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN 9 

of high consideration among the lads of his age and 
company. The manners of the people then settling in 
Indiana and Illinois had not the extreme ferocity for 
which Kentucky had earlier been famous, and which crops 
up here and there in frontier life elsewhere. All the 
same, as might naturally be supposed, they shared Plato's 
opinion that youths and men in the prime of life should 
settle their differences with their fists. Young Lincoln's 
few serious combats were satisfactorily decisive, and 
neither they nor his friendly wrestling bouts ended in the 
quarrels which were too common among his neighbours. 
Thus, for all his originality and oddity, he early grew 
accustomed to mix in the sort of company he was likely 
to meet, without either inward shrinking or the need of 
conscious self-assertion. 

In one thing he stood aloof from the sports of his 
fellows. Most backwoodsmen were bred to the gun; 
he has told us that he shot a turkey when he was eight 
and never afterwards shot at all. There is an early tale 
of his protests against an aimless slaughter of mud 
turtles; and it may be guessed that the dislike of all 
killing, which gave him sore trouble later, began when 
he was young. Tales survive of his kindness to helpless 
men and animals. It marks the real hardness of his 
surroundings, and their hardening effect on many, that 
his exertions in saving a drunken man from death in the 
snow are related with apparent surprise. Some tales 
of his helping a pig stuck in a bog or a dog on an ice 
floe and the like seem to indicate a curious and lasting 
trait. These things seem not to have been done spon- 
taneously, but on mature reflection after he had passed 
unheeding by. He grew to be a man of prompt action 
in circumstances of certain kinds; but generally his impulse 
was slow and not very sure. Taste and the minor sensi- 
bilities were a little deficient in him. As a lady once 
candidly explained to him, he was not ready with little 
gracious acts. But rare occasions, such as can arouse a 
passionate sense of justice, would kindle his slow, kind 
nature with a sudden fire. 



io ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

The total amount of his schooling, at the several brief 
periods for which there happened to have been a school 
accessible and facility to get to it, was afterwards com- 
puted by himself at something under twelve months. 
With this slight help distributed over the years from his 
eighth to his fifteenth birthday he taught himself to read, 
write, and do sums. The stories of the effort and pain- 
ful shifts, by which great men accomplish this initial 
labour almost unhelped, have in all cases the same pathos, 
and have a certain sameness in detail. Having learnt 
to read he had the following books within his reach: 
the Bible, " iEsop's Fables," " Robinson Crusoe," the 
" Pilgrim's Progress," a " History of the United States," 
and Weems' " Life of Washington." Later on the fancy 
took him to learn the laws of his State, and he obtained 
the " Laws of Indiana." These books he did read, and 
read again, and pondered, not with any dreamy or purely 
intellectual interest, but like one who desires the weapon 
of learning for practical ends, and desires also to have 
patterns of what life should be. As already said, his 
service as a labourer could be considerable, and when 
something stirred his ambition to do a task quickly his 
energy could be prodigious. But " bone idle is what I 
called him," was the verdict long after of one, perhaps 
too critical, employer. " I found him," he said, " cocked 
up on a haystack with a book. ' What are you reading? ■ 
I said. ' I'm not reading, I'm studying,' says he. ' What 
are you studying? ' says I. ' Law,' says he, as proud as 
Cicero. 'Great God Almighty!' said I." The boy's 
correction, " studying " for "reading," was impertinent, 
but probably sound. To be equally sound, we must 
reckon among his educational facilities the abundant 
stories which came his way in a community which, how- 
ever unlettered, was certainly not dull-spirited; the occa- 
sional newspaper; the rare lectures or political meetings; 
the much more frequent religious meetings, with preachers 
who taught a grim doctrine, but who preached with 
vigour and sometimes with the deepest sincerity; the 
hymns often of great emotional power ever a simple 



BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN u 

congregation — Cowper's u There is a fountain filled with 
blood," is one recorded favourite among them; the songs, 
far other than hymns, which Dennis Hanks and his other 
mates would pick up or compose; and the practice in 
rhetoric and the art of exposition, which he unblushingly 
afforded himself before audiences of fellow labourers 
who welcomed the jest and the excuse for stopping work. 
The achievement of the self-taught man remains wonder- 
ful, but, if he surmounts his difficulties at all, some of 
his limitations may turn to sheer advantage. There is 
some advantage merely in being driven to make the most 
of few books; great advantage in having one's choice 
restricted by circumstances to good books; great advan- 
tage too in the consciousness of untrained faculty which 
leaves a man capable in mature life of deliberately under- 
taking mental discipline. 

Along with the legends and authentic records of his 
self-training, signs of an ambition which showed itself 
early and which was from the first a clean and a high 
ambition, there are also other legends showing Lincoln 
as a naughty boy among naughty boys. The selection 
here made from these lacks refinement, and the reader 
must note that this was literally a big, naughty boy, not 
a man who had grown stiff in coarseness and ill-nature. 
First it must be recalled that Abraham bore a grudge 
against the Grigsbys, an honourable grudge in its origin 
and perhaps the only grudge he ever bore. There had 
arisen from this a combat, of which the details might 
displease the fastidious, but which was noble in so far 
that Abraham rescued a weaker combatant who was over- 
matched. But there ensued something more displeasing, 
a series of lampoons by Abraham, in prose and a kind 
of verse. These were gross and silly enough, though 
probably to the taste of the public which he then ad- 
dressed, but it is the sequel that matters. In a work 
called " The First Chronicles of Reuben," it is related 
how Reuben and Josiah, the sons of Reuben Grigsby the 
elder, took to themselves wives on the same day. By 
local custom the bridal feast took place and the two 



12 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

young couples began their married careers under the roof 
of the bridegrooms' father. Moreover, it was the custom 
that, at a certain stage in the celebrations, the brides 
should be escorted to their chambers by hired attendants 
who shortly after conducted the bridegrooms thither. 
On this occasion some sense of mischief afoot disturbed 
the heart of Mrs. Reuben Grigsby the elder, and, hasten- 
ing upstairs, just after the attendants had returned, she 
cried out in a loud voice and to the great consternation 
of all concerned, " Why, Reuben, you're in bed with the 
wrong wife ! " The historian who, to the manifest 
annoyance of Lincoln's other biographers, has preserved 
this and much other priceless information, infers that 
Abraham, who was not invited to the feast, had plotted 
this domestic catastrophe and won over the attendants 
to his evil purpose. This is not a certain inference, nor is 
it absolutely beyond doubt that the event recorded in 
" The First Chronicles of Reuben " ever happened at all. 
What is certain is that these Chronicles themselves, com- 
posed in what purports to be the style of Scripture, were 
circulated for the joint edification of the proud race of 
Grigsby and of their envious neighbours in the hand* 
writing of Abraham Lincoln, then between seventeen and 
eighteen. Not without reason does an earlier manuscript 
of the same author conclude, after several correct 
exercises in compound subtraction, with the distich: — 

" Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen, 
He will be good, but God knows when." 

Not to be too solemn about a tale which has here been 
told for the whimsical fancy of its unseemliness and 
because it is probably the worst that there is to tell, we 
may here look forward and face the well-known fact that 
the unseemliness in talk of rough, rustic boys flavoured 
the great President's conversation through life. It is 
well to be plain about this. Lincoln was quite without 
any elegant and sentimental dissoluteness, such as can be 
attractively portrayed. His life was austere and seems 
to have been so from the start. He had that shy 



BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN 13 

reverence for womanhood which is sometimes acquired 
as easily in rough as in polished surroundings and often 
quite as steadily maintained. The testimony of his early 
companions, along with some fragments of the boy's 
feeble but sincere attempts at verse, shows that he 
acquired it young. But a large part of the stories and 
pithy sayings for which he was famous wherever he went, 
but of which when their setting is lost it is impossible to 
recover the enjoyment, were undeniably coarse, and 
naturally enough this fact was jarring to some of those 
in America who most revered him. It should not really 
be hard, in any comprehensive view of his character and 
the circumstances in which it unfolded itself, to trace in 
this bent of his humour something not discordant with 
the widening sympathy and deepening tenderness of his 
nature. The words of his political associate in Illinois, 
Mr. Leonard Swett, afterwards Attorney-General of the 
United States, may suffice. He writes : " Almost any 
man, who will tell a very vulgar story, has, in a degree, 
a vulgar mind. But it was not so with him ; with all his 
purity of character and exalted morality and sensibility, 
which no man can doubt, when hunting for wit he had 
no ability to discriminate between the vulgar and refined 
substances from which he extracted it. It was the wit 
he was after, the pure jewel, and he would pick it up 
out of the mud or dirt just as readily as from a parlour 
table." In any case his best remembered utterances of 
this order, when least fit for print, were both wise and 
incomparably witty, and in any case they did not prevent 
grave gentlemen, who marvelled at them rather uncom- 
fortably, from receiving the deep impression of what 
they called his pure-mindedness. 

One last recollection of Lincoln's boyhood has ap- 
pealed, beyond any other, to some of his friends as 
prophetic of things to come. Mention has already been 
made of his two long trips down the Mississippi. With 
the novel responsibilities which they threw on him, and 
the novel sights and company which he met all the way 
to the strange, distant city of New Orleans, they must 



14 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

have been great experiences. Only two incidents of 
them are recorded. In the first voyage he and his mate? 
had been disturbed at night by a band of negro marauder? 
and had had a sharp fight in repelling them, but in the 
second voyage he met with the negro in a way that to 
him was more memorable. He and the young fellows 
with him saw, among the sights of New Orleans, negroes 
chained, maltreated, whipped and scourged; they came in 
their rambles upon a slave auction where a fine mulatto 
girl was being pinched and prodded and trotted up and 
down the room like a horse to show how she moved, 
that " bidders might satisfy themselves," as the auc- 
tioneer said, of the soundness of the article to be sold. 
John Johnston and John Hanks and Abraham Lincoln 
saw these sights with the unsophisticated eyes of honest 
country lads from a free State. In their home circle 
it seems that slavery was always spoken of with horror. 
One of them had a tenacious memory and a tenacious 
will. " Lincoln saw it," John Hanks said long after, and 
other men's recollections of Lincoln's talk confirmed him 
— "Lincoln saw it; his heart bled; said nothing much, 
was silent. I can say, knowing it, that it was on this 
trip that he formed his opinion of slavery. It ran its 
iron into him then and there, May, 1831. I have heard 
him say so often." Perhaps in other talks old John 
Hanks dramatised his early remembrances a little; he 
related how at the slave auction Lincoln said, " By God, 
boys, let's get away from this. If ever I get a chance to 
hit that thing, I'll hit it hard." 

The youth, who probably did not express his indigna- 
tion in these prophetic words, was in fact chosen to deal 
" that thing " a blow from which it seems unlikely to 
recover as a permitted institution among civilised men, 
and it is certain that from this early time the thought 
of slavery never ceased to be hateful to him. Yet it is 
not in the light of a crusader against this special evil 
that we are to regard him. When he came back from 
this voyage to his new home in Illinois he was simply a 
youth ambitious of an honourable part in the life of the 



BOYHOOD OF LINCOLN 15 

young country of which he was proud. We may regard, 
and he himself regarded, the liberation of the slaves, 
which will always be associated with his name, as a part 
of a larger work, the restoration of his country to its 
earliest and noblest tradition, which alone gave perma= 
nence or worth to its existence as a nation. 



CHAPTER II 

THE GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 

I. The Formation of a National Government. 

It is of course impossible to understand the life of a 
politician in another country without study of its condi- 
tions and its past. In the case of America this study is 
especially necessary, not only because the many points 
of comparison between that country and our own are apt 
to conceal profound differences of customs and institu- 
tions, but because the broader difference between a new 
country and an old is in many respects more important 
than we conceive. But in the case of Lincoln there is 
peculiar reason for carrying such a study far back. He 
himself appealed unceasingly to a tradition of the past. 
In tracing the causes which up to his time had tended to 
conjoin the United States more closely and the cause 
which more recently had begun to threaten them with 
disruption, we shall be examining the elements of the 
problem with which it was his work in life to deal. 

The " Thirteen United States of America " which in 
1776 declared their independence of Great Britain were 
so many distinct Colonies distributed unevenly along 1,300 
miles of the Atlantic coast. These thirteen Colonies 
can easily be identified on the map when it is explained 
that Maine in the extreme north was then an unsettled 
forest tract claimed by the Colony of Massachusetts, that 
Florida in the extreme south belonged to Spain, and that 
Vermont, which soon after asserted its separate ex- 
istence, was a part of the State of New York. Almost 
every one of these Colonies had its marked peculiarities 
and its points of antagonism as against its nearest 
neighbours; but they fell into three groups. We may 
broadly contrast the five southernmost, which included 

16 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 17 

those which were the richest and of which in many ways 
the leading State was Virginia, with the four (or later 
six) northernmost States known collectively as New 
England. Both groups had at first been colonised by the 
same class, the smaller landed gentry of England with 
a sprinkling of well-to-do traders, though the South 
received later a larger number of poor and shiftless 
immigrants than the North, and the North attracted a 
larger number of artisans. The physical conditions of the 
South led to the growth of large farms, or " plantations " 
as they were called, and of a class of large proprietors; 
negro slaves thrived there and were useful in the cultiva- 
tion of tobacco, indigo, rice, and later of cotton. The 
North continued to be a country of small farms, but its 
people turned also to fishery and to commerce, and the 
sea carrying trade became early its predominant interest, 
yielding place later on to manufacturing industries. The 
South was attached in the main, though by no means 
altogether, to the Church of England; New England 
owed its origin to successive immigrations of Puritans 
often belonging to the Congregational or Independent 
body; with the honourable exception of Rhode Island 
these communities showed none of the liberal and tolerant 
spirit which the Independents of the old country often 
developed; they manifested, however, the frequent vir- 
tues as well as the occasional defects of the Puritan 
character. The middle group of Colonies were of more 
mixed origin; New York and New Jersey had been Dutch 
possessions, Delaware was partly Swedish, Pennsylvania 
had begun as a Quaker settlement but included many 
different elements; in physical and economic conditions 
they resembled on the whole New England, but they 
lacked, some of them conspicuously, the Puritan disci- 
pline, and had a certain cosmopolitan character. Though 
there were sharp antagonisms among the northern settle- 
ments, and the southern settlements were kept distinct 
by the great distances between them, the tendency of 
events was to soften these minor differences. But it 
greatly intensified one broad distinction which marked 



18 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

off the southern group from the middle and the northern 
groups equally. 

Nevertheless, before independence was thought of 
there were common characteristics distinguishing Ameri- 
cans from English people. They are the better worth 
an attempt to note them because, as a historian of America 
wrote some years ago, " the typical American of 1900 is 
on the whole more like his ancestor of 1775 than is the 
typical Englishman." In all the Colonies alike the condi- 
tions of life encouraged personal independence. In all 
alike they also encouraged a special kind of ability which 
may be called practical rather than thorough — that of 
a workman who must be competent at many tasks and 
has neither opportunity nor inducement to become perfect 
at one; that of the scientific man irresistibly drawn to 
inventions which shall make life less hard; that of the 
scholar or philosopher who must supply the new com- 
munity's need of lawyers and politicians. 

On the other hand, many of the colonists' forefathers 
had come to their new home with distinct aspirations for 
a better ordering of human life than the old world al- 
lowed, and it has frequently been noticed that Americans 
from the first have been more prone than their kinsmen 
in England to pay homage to large ideal conceptions. 
This is a disposition not entirely favourable to painstaking 
and sure-footed reform. The idealist American is per- 
haps too ready to pay himself with fine words, which the 
subtler and shyer Englishman avoids and rather too 
readily sets down as insincere in others. Moreover, this 
tendency is quite consistent with the peculiar conservatism 
characteristic of America. New conditions in which tra- 
dition gave no guidance called forth great inventive 
powers and bred a certain pride in novelty. An American 
economist has written in a sanguine humour, " The 
process of transplanting removes many of the shackles 
of custom and tradition which retard the progress of 
older countries. In a new country things cannot be done 
in the old way, and therefore they are probably done in 
the best way." But a new country is always apt to cling 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 19 

with tenacity to those old things for which it still has use ; 
and a remote and undeveloped country does not fully 
share the continual commerce in ideas which brings about 
change (and, in the main, advance) in the old world. 
The conservatism which these causes tend to produce has 
in any case been marked in America. Thus, as readers 
of Lowell are aware, in spite of the ceaseless efflorescence 
of the modern slang of America, the language of America 
is in many respects that of an older England than ours, 
and the like has all along been true of important litera- 
ture, and still more of oratory, in America. Moreover, 
as the sentences which have just been quoted may suggest, 
the maxim that has once hit the occasion, or the new 
practice or expedient once necessitated by the conditions 
of the moment, has been readily hallowed as expressing 
the wisdom of the ages. An Englishman will quote Burke 
as he would quote Demosthenes or Plato, but Americans 
have been apt to quote their elder statesmen as they would 
quote the Bible. In like manner political practices of ac- 
cidental origin — for instance, that a representative should 
be an inhabitant of the place he represents — acquire in 
America something like the force of constitutional law. 
In this connection we must recall the period at which 
the earliest settlers came from England, and the political 
heritage which they consequently brought with them. 
This heritage included a certain aptitude for local gov- 
ernment, which was fostered in the south by the rise of 
a class of large landowners and in the north by the Con- 
gregational Church system. It included also a great 
tenacity of the subject's rights as against the State — the 
spirit of Hampden refusing payment of ship-money — 
and a disposition to look on the law and the Courts as the 
bulwarks of such rights against Government. But it did 
not include — and this explains the real meaning of the 
War of Independence — any sort of feeling of allegiance 
to a Parliament which represented Great Britain only, 
and which had gained its position even in Great Britain 
since the fathers of Virginia and Massachusetts left 
home. Nor did it include — and this was of great irn- 



20 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

portance in its influence on the form of the Constitution — 
any real understanding of or any aptitude for the English 
Parliamentary Government, under which the leaders of 
the legislative body and the advisers of the Crown in its 
executive functions are the same men, and under which 
the elected persons, presumed for the moment to 
represent the people, are allowed for that moment an 
almost unfettered supremacy. 

Thus there was much that made it easy for the 
Colonies to combine in the single act of repudiating 
British sovereignty, yet the characteristics which may 
be ascribed to them in common were not such as inclined 
them or fitted them to build up a great new unity. 

The Colonies, however, backed up by the British 
Government with the vigour which Chatham imparted 
to it, had acted together against a common danger from 
the French. When the States, as we must now call them, 
acted together against the British Government they did 
so in name as " United States," and they shortly pro- 
ceeded to draw up " Articles of Confederation and Per- 
petual Union." But it was union of a feeble kind. The 
separate government of each State, in its internal affairs, 
was easy to provide for; representative institutions always 
existed, and no more change was needed than to substi- 
tute elected officers for the Governors and Councillors 
formerly appointed by the Crown. For the Union a 
Congress was provided which was to represent all the 
States in dealings with the outside world, but it was a 
Government with no effective powers except such as each 
separate State might independently choose to lend it. It 
might wage war with England, but it could not effectually 
control or regularly pay the military service of its own 
citizens; it might make a treaty of peace with England, 
but it could not enforce on its citizens distasteful obliga- 
tions of that treaty. Such an ill-devised machine would 
have worked well enough for a time, if the Union Gov- 
ernment could have attached to itself popular sentiments 
of honour and loyalty. But the sentiments were not 
there ; and it worked badly. 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 21 

When once we were reconciled to a defeat which 
proved good for us, it became a tradition among English 
writers to venerate the American Revolution. Later 
English historians have revolted from this indiscriminate 
veneration. They insist on another side of the facts: 
on the hopelessness of the American cause but for the 
commanding genius of Washington and his moral au- 
thority, and for the command which France and Spain 
obtained of the seas; on the petty quarrelsomeness with 
which the rights of the Colonists were urged, and the 
meanly skilful agitation which forced on the final rup- 
ture; on the lack of sustained patriotic effort during the 
war; on the base cruelty and dishonesty with which the 
loyal minority were persecuted and the private rights 
guaranteed by the peace ignored. It does not concern us 
to ascertain the precise justice in this displeasing picture ; 
no man now regrets the main result of the Revolution, 
and we know that a new country is a new country, and 
that there was much in the circumstances of the war to 
encourage indiscipline and ferocity. But the fact that 
there is cause for such an indictment bears in two ways 
upon our present subject. 

In the first place, there has been a tendency both in 
England and in America to look at this history upside 
down. The epoch of the Revolution and the Constitution 
has been regarded as a heroic age — wherein lived the 
elder Brutus, Mucius Scaevola, Claelia and the rest — to 
be followed by almost continuous disappointment, dis- 
illusionment and decline. A more pleasing and more 
bracing view is nearer to the historic truth. The faults 
of a later time were largely survivals, and the later 
history is largely that of growth though in the face of 
terrific obstacles and many influences that favoured decay. 
The nobility of the Revolution in the eighteenth century 
may be rated higher or lower, but in the Civil War, in 
which the elder brothers of so many men now living bore 
their part, the people of the North and of the South alike 
displayed far more heroic qualities. 

In the second place, the War of Independence and of 



22 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the Revolution lacked some of the characteristics of other 
national uprisings. It was not a revolt against grievous 
oppression or against a wholly foreign domination, but 
against a political system which the people mildly re- 
sented and which only statesmen felt to be pernicious 
and found to be past cure. The cause appealed to far- 
seeing political aspiration and appealed also to turbulent 
and ambitious spirits and to whatever was present of 
a merely revolutionary temper, but the ordinary law- 
abiding man who minded his own business was not greatly 
moved one way or the other in his heart. 

The subsequent movement which, in a few years after 
independence was secured, gave the United States a na- 
tional and a working Constitution was altogether the 
work of a few, to which popular movement contributed 
nothing. Of popular aspiration for unity there was 
none. Statesmen knew that the new nation or group of 
nations lay helpless between pressing dangers from 
abroad and its own financial difficulties. They saw clearly 
that they must create a Government of the Union which 
could exercise directly upon the individual American 
citizen an authority like that of the Government of his 
own State. They did this, but with a reluctant and half- 
convinced public opinion behind them. 

The makers of the Constitution earned in a manner 
the full praise that has ever since been bestowed on 
them. But they did not, as it has often been suggested 
they did, create a sort of archetype and pattern for all 
Governments that may hereafter partake of a federal 
character. Nor has the curious machine which they de- 
vised — with its balanced opposition between two legisla- 
tive chambers, between the whole Legislature and the 
independent executive power of the President, between 
the governing power of the moment and the permanent 
expression of the people's will embodied in certain almost 
unalterable laws — worked conspicuously better than other 
political constitutions. The American Constitution owes 
its peculiarities partly to the form which the State Gov- 
ernments had naturally taken, and partly to sheer mis* 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 23 

understanding of the British Constitution, but much more 
to the want at the time of any strong sense of national 
unity and to the existence of a good deal of dislike to all 
government whatsoever. The sufficient merit of its 
founders was that of patient and skilful diplomatists, 
who, undeterred by difficulties, found out the most satis- 
factory settlement chat had a chance of being accepted 
by the Statee. 

So the Colonies, which in 1776 had declared their in- 
dependence of Great Britain under the name of the United 
States of America, entered in 1789 into the possession 
of machinery of government under which their unity and 
independence could be maintained. 

It will be well at once to describe those features of 
the Constitution which it will be necessary for us later 
to bear in mind. It is generally known that the Presi- 
dent of the United States is an elected officer — elected 
by what operates, though intended to act otherwise, 
as a popular vote. During the four years of his office 
he might roughly be said to combine the functions of the 
King in this country and those of a Prime Minister whose 
Cabinet is in due subjection to him. But that description 
needs one very important qualification. He wields, with 
certain slight restrictions, the whole executive power of 
government, but neither he nor any of his ministers can, 
like the ministers of our King, sit or speak in the Legis- 
lature, nor can he, like our King, dissolve that Legisla- 
ture. He has indeed a veto on Acts of Congress, which 
can only be overridden by a large majority in both 
Houses. But the executive and the legislative powers in 
America were purposely so constituted as to be inde- 
pendent of each other to a degree which is unknown in 
this country. 

It is perhaps not very commonly understood that 
President and Congress alike are as strictly fettered in 
their action by the Constitution as a limited liability 
company is by its Memorandum of Association. This 
Constitution, which defines both the form of government 
and certain liberties of the subiect, is not unalterable, 



24 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

but it can be altered only by a process which requires 
both the consent of a great majority in Congress or 
alternatively of a great majority of the legislatures of the 
distinct States composing the Union, and also ratification 
of amendments by three-fourths of the several States. 
Thus we shall have to notice later that a " Constitutional 
Amendment " abolishing slavery became a terror of the 
future to many people in the slave States, but remained 
all the time an impossibility in the view of most people 
in the free States. 

We have, above all things, to dismiss from our minds 
any idea that the Legislature of a State is subordinate 
to the Congress of the United States, or that a State 
Governor is an officer under the President. The Constitu- 
tion of the Union was the product of a half-developed 
sense of nationality. Under it the State authority (in 
the American sense of "State") and the Union or 
Federal authority go on side by side working in separate 
spheres, each subject to Constitutional restrictions, but 
each in its own sphere supreme. Thus the State authority 
is powerless to make peace or war or to impose customs 
duties, for those are Federal matters. But the Union 
authority is equally powerless, wherever a State authority 
has been constituted, to punish ordinary crime, to pro- 
mote education, or to regulate factories. In particular, 
by the Constitution as it stood till after the Civil War, the 
Union authority was able to prohibit the importation of 
slaves from abroad after the end of 1807, but had no 
power to abolish slavery itself in any of the States. 

Further, Congress had to be constituted in such a 
manner as to be agreeable to the smaller States which 
did not wish to enter into a Union in which their 
influence would be swamped by their more populous 
neighbours. Their interest was secured by providing 
that in the Senate each State should have two members 
and no more, while in the House of Representatives the 
people of the whole Union are represented according to 
population. Thus legislation through Congress requires 
the concurrence of two forces which may easily be op- 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 25 

posed, that of the majority of American citizens and that 
of the majority of the several States. Of the two cham- 
bers, the Senate, whose members are elected for six years, 
and to secure continuity do not all retire at the same 
time, became as time went on, though not at first, at- 
tractive to statesmen of position, and acquired therefore 
additional influence. 

Lastly, the Union was and is still the possessor of 
Territories not included in any State, and in the Terri- 
tories, whatever subordinate self-government they might 
be allowed, the Federal authority has always been su- 
preme and uncontrolled in all matters. But as these 
Territories have become more settled and more popu- 
lated, portions of them have steadily from the first been 
organised as States and admitted to the Union. It is 
for Congress to settle the time of their admission and 
to make any conditions in regard to their Constitutions 
as States. But when once admitted as States they have 
thenceforward the full rights of the original States. 
Within all the Territories, while they remained under its 
jurisdiction it lay with Congress to determine whether 
slavery should be lawful or not, and, when any portion 
of them was ripe for admission to the Union as a State, 
Congress could insist that the new State's Constitution 
should or should not prohibit slavery. When the Consti- 
tution of the Union was being settled, slavery was the 
subject of most careful compromise; but in any union 
formed between slave States and free, a bitter root of 
controversy must have remained, and the opening through 
which controversy actually returned was provided by the 
Territories. 

On all other matters the makers of the Constitution 
had in the highest temper of statesmanship found a way 
round seemingly insuperable difficulties. The whole 
attitude of " the fathers " towards slavery is a question 
of some consequence to a biographer of Lincoln, and we 
shall return to it in a little while. 



26 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

2. Territorial Expansion. 

A machine of government had been created, and we are 
shortly to consider how it was got to work. But the 
large dominion to be governed had to be settled, and its 
area was about to undergo an enormous expansion. It 
will be convenient at this point to mark the stages of 
this development. 

The thirteen Colonies had, when they first revolted, 
definite western boundaries, the westernmost of them 
reaching back from the sea-board to a frontier in the 
Alleghany Mountains. But at the close of the war Great 
Britain ceded to the United States the whole of the in- 
land country up to the Mississippi River. Virginia had 
in the meantime effectively colonised Kentucky to the 
west of her, and for a time this was treated as within 
her borders. In a similar way Tennessee had been 
settled from North and South Carolina and was treated 
as part of the former. Virginia had also established 
claims by conquest north of the Ohio River in what was 
called the North-West Territory, but these claims and 
all similar claims of particular States in unsettled or half- 
settled territory were shortly before or shortly after the 
adoption of the Constitution ceded to the Union Govern- 
ment. But the dominions of that Government soon re- 
ceived a vast accession. In 1803, by a brave exercise of 
the Constitutional powers which he was otherwise dis- 
posed to restrict jealously, President Jefferson bought 
from Napoleon I. the great expanse of country west of 
the Mississippi called Louisiana. This region in the 
extreme south was no wider than the present State of 
Louisiana, but further north it widened out so as to take 
in the whole watershed of the Missouri and its tribu* 
taries, including in the extreme north nearly all the 
present State of Montana. In 18 19 Florida was pur- 
chased from Spain, and that country at the same time 
abandoned its claims to a strip of coastland which now 
forms the sea-board of Alabama and Mississippi. 

Such was the extent of the United States when Lincoln 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 27 

began his political life. In the movement of population 
by which this domain was being settled up, different 
streams may be roughly distinguished. First, there was 
from 1780 onwards a constant movement of the poorer 
class and of younger sons of rich men from the great 
State of Virginia and to some extent from the Carolinas 
into Kentucky and Tennessee, whence they often shifted 
further north into Indiana and Illinois, or sometimes 
further west into Missouri. It was mainly a movement 
of single families or groups of families of adventurous 
pioneers, very sturdy, and very turbulent. Then there 
came the expansion of the great plantation interest in the 
further South, carrying with it as it spread, not occasional 
slaves as in Kentucky and Tennessee, but the whole 
plantation system. This movement went not only directly 
westward, but still more by the Gulf of Mexico and up 
the Mississippi, into the State of Louisiana, where a 
considerable French population had settled, the State of 
Mississippi, and later into Missouri. Later still came the 
westward movement from the Northern States. The 
energies of the people in these States had at first been to 
a great extent absorbed by sea-going pursuits and the 
subjugation of their own rugged soil, so that they reached 
western regions like Illinois rather later than did the 
settlers from States further south. Ultimately, as their 
manufactures grew, immigration from Europe began its 
steady flow to these States, and the great westward 
stream, which continuing in our days has filled up the 
rich lands of the far North- West, grew in volume. But 
want of natural timber and other causes hindered the 
development of the fertile prairie soil in the regions 
beyond the upper Mississippi, till the period of railway 
development, which began about 1840, was far advanced. 
Illinois was Far West in 1830, Iowa and Minnesota con- 
tinued to be so in i860. The Northerners, when they 
began to move westward, came in comparatively large 
numbers, bringing comparatively ordered habits and 
the full machinery of outward civilisation with them. 
Thus a great social change followed upon their arrival 



28 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

in the regions to which only scattered pioneers such as 
the Lincolns had previously penetrated. In Illinois, with 
which so much of our story is bound up, the rapidity of 
that change may be estimated from the fact that the 
population of that State multiplied sevenfold between the 
time when Lincoln settled there and the day when he 
left it as President. 

The concluding stages by which the dominions of the 
United States came to be as we know them were: the 
annexation by agreement in 1846 of the Republic of 
Texas, which had separated itself from Mexico and which 
claimed besides the great State of Texas a considerable 
territory reaching north-west to the upper portions of 
the Arkansas River; the apportionment to the Union by 
a delimitation treaty with Great Britain in 1846 of the 
Oregon Territory, including roughly the State of that 
name and the rest of the basin of the Columbia River up 
to the present frontier — British Columbia being at the 
same time apportioned to Great Britain; the conquest 
from Mexico in 1848 of California and a vast moun- 
tainous tract at the back of it; the purchase from Mexico 
of a small frontier strip in 1853; and the acquisition at 
several later times of various outlying dependencies which 
will in no way concern us. 

3. The Growth of the Practice and Traditions of the 
Union Government. 

We must turn back to the internal growth of the new 
united nation. When the Constitution had been formed 
and the question of its acceptance by the States had been 
at last settled, and when Washington had been inaugu- 
rated as the first President under it, a wholly new con- 
flict arose between two parties, led by two Ministers in 
the President's Cabinet, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas 
Jefferson. Both were potent and remarkable men, Hamil- 
ton in all senses a great man. These two men, for all 
their antagonism, did services to their country, without 
which the vigorous growth of the new nation would not 
have been possible. 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 29 

The figure of Alexander Hamilton, then Secretary of 
the Treasury (ranked by Talleyrand with Fox and 
Napoleon as one of the three great men he had known), 
must fascinate any English student of the period. If his 
name is not celebrated in the same way in the country 
which he so eminently served, it is perhaps because in 
his ideas, as in his origin, he was not strictly American. 
As a boy, half Scotch, half French Huguenot, from the 
English West Indian island of Nevis, he had been at 
school in New York when his speeches had some real 
effect in attaching that city to the cause of Independ- 
ence. He had served brilliantly in the war, on Washing- 
ton's staff and with his regiment. He had chivalrously 
defended, as an advocate and in other ways, the English- 
men and loyalists against whose cause he fought. He 
had induced the great central State of New York to ac- 
cept the Constitution, when the strongest local party 
would have rejected it and made the Union impossible. 
As Washington's Secretary of the Treasury he organised 
the machinery of government, helped his chief to preserve 
a strong, upright and cautious foreign policy at the critical 
point of the young Republic's infancy, and performed 
perhaps the greatest and most difficult service of all in 
setting the disordered finances of the country upon a 
sound footing. In early middle age he ended a life, not 
flawless but admirable and lovable, in a duel, murderously 
forced upon him by one Aaron Burr. This man, who 
was an elegant profligate, with many graces but no public 
principle, was a claimant to the Presidency in opposition 
to Hamilton's greatest opponent, Jefferson; Hamilton 
knowingly incurred a feud which must at the best have 
been dangerous to him, by unhesitatingly throwing his 
weight upon the side of Jefferson, his own ungenerous 
rival. The details of his policy do not concern us, but 
the United States could hardly have endured for many 
years without the passionate sense of the need of govern- 
ment and the genius for actual administration with which 
Hamilton set the new nation on its way. Nevertheless — 
so do gifts differ — the general spirit which has on the 



30 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

whole informed the American nation and held it together 
was neither respected nor understood by him. His party, 
called the Federalists, because they claimed to stand for 
a strong and an efficient Federal Government, did not 
survive him long. It is of interest to us here only be- 
cause, with its early disappearance, there ceased for ever 
to be in America any party whatsoever which in any 
sense represented aristocratic principles or leanings. 

The fate of Jefferson's party (at first called Republican 
but by no means to be confused with the Republican 
party which will concern us later) was far different, for 
the Democratic party, represented by the President of 
the United States at this moment, claims to descend from 
it in unbroken apostolic succession. But we need not 
pause to trace the connecting thread between them, real 
as it is, for parties are not to be regarded as individuals. 
Indeed the personality of Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of 
State in Washington's Cabinet, impressed itself, during 
his life and long after, upon all America more than that 
of any other man. Democrats to-day have described Lin- 
coln, who by no means belonged to their party, as Jef- 
ferson's spiritual heir; and Lincoln would have welcomed 
the description. 

No biographer has achieved an understanding present- 
ment of Jefferson's curious character, which as presented 
by unfriendly critics is an unpleasing combination of 
contrasting elements. A tall and active fellow, a good 
horseman and a good shot, living through seven years 
of civil war, which he had himself heralded in, without 
the inclination to strike a blow; a scholar, musician, and 
mathematician, without delicacy, elevation, or precision 
of thought or language; a man of intense ambition, with- 
out either administrative capacity or the courage to assert 
himself in counsel or in debate; a dealer in philanthropic 
sentiment, privately malignant and vindictive. This is 
not as a whole a credible portrait; it cannot stand for the 
man as his friends knew him; but there is evidence for 
each feature of it, and it remains impossible for a 
foreigner to think of Jefferson and not compare him to his 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 31 

disadvantage with the antagonist whom he eclipsed. By 
pertinacious industry, however, working chiefly through 
private correspondence, he constructed a great party, dom- 
inated a nation, and dominated it mainly for good. For 
the rapid and complete triumph of Jefferson's party over 
its opponents signifies a very definite and lasting conver- 
sion of the main stream of American public opinion to 
what may be called the sane element in the principles of 
the French Revolution. At the time when he set himself 
to counterwork Hamilton, American statesmanship was 
likely to be directed only to making Government strong 
and to ensuring the stability of the business world; for 
reaction against the bloody absurdities that had hap- 
pened in France was strong in America, and in English 
thought, which still had influence in America, it was all- 
powerful. Against this he asserted an intense belief in 
the value of freedom, in the equal claim of men of all 
conditions to the consideration of government, and in 
the supreme importance to government of the consenting 
mind of the governed. And he made this sense so defi- 
nitely a part of the national stock of ideas that, while the 
older-established principles of strong and sound govern- 
ment were not lost to sight, they were consciously rated 
as subordinate to the principles of liberty. 

It must not be supposed that the ascendency thus early 
acquired by what may be called liberal opinions in 
America was a matter merely of setting some fine phrases 
in circulation, or of adopting, as was early done in most 
States, a wide franchise and other external marks of 
democracy. We may dwell a little longer on the unusual 
but curiously popular figure of Jefferson, for it illustrates 
the spirit with which the commonwealth became imbued 
under his leadership. He has sometimes been presented 
as a man of flabby character whose historical part was 
that of intermediary between impracticable French " phi- 
losophes " and the ruffians and swindlers that Martin 
Chuzzlewit encountered, who were all " children of 
liberty," and whose u boastful answer to the Despot and 
the Tyrant was that their bright home was in the Settin' 



32 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Sun." He was nothing of the kind. His judgment was 
probably unsound on the questions of foreign policy on 
which as Secretary of State he differed from Washington, 
and he leaned, no doubt, to a jealous and too narrow in- 
sistence upon the limits set by the Constitution to the 
Government's power. But he and his party were em- 
phatically right in the resistance which they offered to 
certain needless measures of coercion. As President^ 
though he was not a great President, he suffered the sensi- 
ble course of administration originated by his opponent 
to continue undisturbed, and America owed to one bold 
and far-seeing act of his the greatest of the steps by which 
her territory was enlarged. It is, however, in the field 
of domestic policy, which rested with the States and with 
which a President has often little to do, that the results 
of his principles must be sought. Jefferson was a man 
who had worked unwearyingly in Virginia at sound, and 
what we should now call conservative, reforms, establish- 
ing religious toleration, reforming a preposterous land 
law, seeking to provide education for the poor, striving 
unsuccessfully for a sensible scheme of gradual emanci- 
pation of the slaves. In like manner his disciples after 
him, in their several States, devoted themselves to the 
kind of work in removing manifest abuses and providing 
for manifest new social needs in which English reformers 
like Romilly and Bentham, and the leaders of the first 
reformed Parliament, were to be successful somewhat 
later. The Americans who so exasperated Dickens vainly 
supposed themselves to be far ahead of England in much 
that we now consider essential to a well-ordered nation. 
But there could have been no answer to Americans of 
Jefferson's generation if they had made the same claim. 
It is with this fact in mind that we should approach 
the famous words of Jefferson which echoed so long with 
triumphant or reproachful sound in the ears of Americans 
and to which long after Lincoln was to make a memo- 
rable appeal. The propaganda which he carried on when 
the Constitution had been adopted was on behalf of a 
principle which he had enunciated as a younger man when 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 33 

he drafted the Declaration of Independence. That docu- 
ment is mainly a rehearsal of the colonists' grievances, 
and is as strictly lawyerlike and about as fair or unfair 
as the arguments of a Parliamentarian under Charles I. 
But the argumentation is prefaced with these sounding 
words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: — that 
all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their 
Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these 
are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to 
secure these rights, governments are instituted among 
men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the 
governed. " Few propositions outside the Bible have 
offered so easy a mark to the shafts of unintelligently 
clever criticism. 

Jefferson, when he said that u all men are created 
equal/' and the Tory Dr. Johnson, when he spoke of 
" the natural equality of man," used a curious eighteenth 
century phrase, of which a Greek scholar can see the 
origin; but it did not mean anything absurd, nor, on the 
other hand, did it convey a mere platitude. It should 
not be necessary to explain, as Lincoln did long after, 
that Jefferson did not suppose all men to be of equal 
height or weight or equally wise or equally good. He 
did, however, contend for a principle of which one ele- 
mentary application is the law which makes murder the 
same crime whatever be the relative positions of the 
murderer and the murdered man. Such a law was indeed 
firmly rooted in England before Jefferson talked of 
equality, but it amazed the rest of Europe when the 
House of Lords hanged a peer for the murder of his 
servant. There are indefinitely many further ways in 
which men who are utterly unequal had best be treated 
as creatures equally entitled to the consideration of gov- 
ernment and of their neighbours. It is safer to carry 
this principle too far than not to carry it far enough. 
If Jefferson had expressed this and his cognate principle 
of liberty with scientific precision, or with the full per- 
sonal sincerity with which a greater man like Lincoln 
expressed it, he would have said little from which any 



34 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Englishman to-day would dissent. None the less he 
would have enunciated a doctrine which most Govern- 
ments then existing set at naught or proscribed, and for 
which Hamilton and the prosperous champions of in- 
dependence who supported him had no use. 

The Declaration of Independence was not a very 
candid State paper, and the popularity Jefferson after- 
wards created for its sentiments was not wholly free from 
humbug. Many men were more ready to think them- 
selves the equals of Washington or Hamilton in the 
respects in which they were not so, than to think a negro 
their own equal in the respects in which he was. The 
boundless space and untrammelled conditions of the new 
world made liberty and equality in some directions highly 
attainable ideals, so much so that they seemed to demand 
little effort or discipline. The patriotic orators under 
whom Lincoln sat in his youth would ascribe to the 
political wisdom of their great democracy what was really 
the result of geography. They would regard the extent 
of forest and prairie as creditable to themselves, just as 
some few Englishmen have regarded our location upon 
an island. 

This does not, however, do away with the value of 
that tradition of the new world which in its purest and 
sincerest form became part and parcel of Lincoln's mind. 
Jefferson was a great American patriot. In his case in- 
sistence on the rights of the several States sprang from 
no half-hearted desire for a great American nation; he 
regarded these provincial organisations as machinery by 
which government and the people could be brought nearer 
together; and he contributed that which was most needed 
for the evolution of a vigorous national life. He im- 
parted to the very recent historical origin of his country, 
and his followers imparted to its material conditions, a 
certain element of poetry and the felt presence of a 
wholesome national ideal. The patriotism of an older 
country derives its glory and its pride from influences 
deep rooted in the past, creating a tradition of public 
and private action which needs no definite formula. The 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 35 

man who did more than any other to supply this lack in 
a new country, by imbuing its national consciousness — 
even its national cant — with high aspiration, did — it may 
well be — more than any strong administrator or construc- 
tive statesman to create a Union which should thereafter 
seem worth preserving. 

4. The Missouri Compromise. 

No sober critic, applying to the American statesmen 
of the first generation the standards which he would 
apply to their English contemporaries, can blame them 
in the least because they framed their Constitution as 
best they could and were not deterred by the scruples 
which they felt about slavery from effecting a Union 
between States which, on all other grounds except their 
latent difference upon slavery, seemed meant to be one. 
But many of these men had set their hands in the Declara- 
tion of Independence to the most unqualified claim of 
liberty and equality for all men and proceeded, in the 
Constitution, to give nineteen years' grace to " that most 
detestable sum of all villainies,'' as Wesley called it, the 
African slave trade, and to impose on the States which 
thought slavery wrong the dirty work of restoring escaped 
slaves to captivity. "Why," Dr. Johnson had asked, " do 
the loudest yelps for liberty come from the drivers of 
slaves?" We are forced to recognise, upon any study 
of the facts, that they could not really have made the 
Union otherwise than as they did; yet a doubt presents 
itself as to the general soundness and sincerity of their 
boasted notions of liberty. Now, later on we shall have 
to understand the policy as to slavery on behalf of which 
Lincoln stepped forward as a leader. In his own con- 
stantly reiterated words it was a return to the position 
of " the fathers," and, though he was not a professional 
historian, it concerns us to know that there was sincerity 
at least in his intensely historical view of politics. We 
have, then, to see first how " the fathers " — that is, the 
most considerable men among those who won Independ* 



36 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

ence and made the Constitution — set out with a very 
honest view on the subject of slavery, but with a too 
comfortable hope of its approaching end, which one or two 
lived to see frustrated; secondly, how the men who suc- 
ceeded them were led to abandon such hopes and content 
themselves with a compromise as to slavery which they 
trusted would at least keep the American nation in being. 
Among those who signed the Declaration of Independ- 
ence there were presumably some of Dr. Johnson's 
" yelpers." It mattered more that there were sturdy 
people who had no idea of giving up slavery and probably 
did not relish having to join in protestations about 
equality. Men like Jefferson ought to have known well 
that their associates in South Carolina and Georgia in 
particular did not share their aspirations — the people of 
Georgia indeed were recent and ardent converts to the 
slave system. But these sincere and insincere believers 
in slavery were the exceptions; their views did not then 
seem to prevail even in the greatest of the slave States, 
Virginia. Broadly speaking, the American opinion on 
this matter in 1775 or in 1789 had gone as far ahead of 
English opinion, as English opinion had in turn gone 
ahead of American, when, in 1833, the year after the 
first Reform Bill, the English people put its hand into 
its pocket and bought out its own slave owners in the 
West Indies. The British Government had forced sev- 
eral of the American Colonies to permit slavery against 
their will, and only in 1769 it had vetoed, in the interest 
of British trade, a Colonial enactment for suppressing 
the slave trade. This was sincerely felt as a part, though 
a minor part, of the grievance against the mother country. 
So far did such views prevail on the surface that a Con- 
vention of all the Colonies in 1774 unanimously voted 
that " the abolition of domestic slavery is the greatest 
object of desire in those Colonies where it was unhappily 
introduced in their infant state. But previous to the 
enfranchisement of the slaves in law, it is necessary to 
exclude all further importation from Africa." It was 
therefore very commonly assumed when, after an interval 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 37 

of war which suspended such reforms, Independence was 
achieved, that slavery was a doomed institution. 

Those among the " fathers " whose names are best 
known in England, Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, 
Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton, were all opponents 
of slavery. These include the first four Presidents, and 
the leaders of very different schools of thought. Some 
of them, Washington and Jefferson at least, had a few 
slaves of their own. Washington's attitude to his slaves 
is illustrated by a letter which he wrote to secure the 
return of a black attendant of Mrs. Washington's who 
had run away (a thing which he had boasted could never 
occur in his household) ; the runaway was to be brought 
back if she could be persuaded to return; her master's 
legal power to compel her was not to be used. She was 
in fact free, but had foolishly left a good place; and 
there is no reason to suppose that it was otherwise with 
Jefferson's slaves. Jefferson's theory was vehemently 
against slavery. In old age he gave up hope in the 
matter and was more solicitous for union than for 
liberty, but this was after the disappointment of many 
efforts. In these efforts he had no illusory notion of 
equality; he wrote in 1791, when he had been defeated 
in the attempt to carry a measure of gradual emancipa- 
tion in Virginia: " Nobody wishes more than I do to see 
such proofs as you exhibit, that Nature has given to our 
black brothers talents equal to those of the other colours 
of men, and that the appearance of a want of them is 
owing mainly to the degraded condition of their ex- 
istence, both in Africa and America. I can add with 
truth, that nobody wishes more ardently to see a good 
system commenced for raising the condition both of their 
body and mind to what it ought to be, as fast as the 
imbecility of their present existence and other circum- 
stances, which cannot be neglected, will permit." 

When he felt at last that freedom was not making 
way, his letters, by which his influence was chiefly exer- 
cised, abounded in passionate regrets. " I tremble for 
my country," he wrote, " when I think of the negro 



38 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

and remember that God is just." But if he is judged not 
by his sentiments, or even by his efforts, but by what he 
accomplished, this rhetorical champion of freedom did 
accomplish one great act, the first link as it proved in the 
chain of events by which slavery was ultimately abolished. 
In 1784 the North-West Territory, as it was called, was 
ceded by Virginia to the old Congress of the days before 
the Union. Jefferson then endeavoured to pass an 
Ordinance by which slavery should be excluded from all 
territory that might ever belong to Congress. In this 
indeed he failed, for in part of the territory likely to be 
acquired slavery was already established, but the result 
was a famous Ordinance of 1787, by which slavery was 
for ever excluded from the soil of the North-West Terri- 
tory itself, and thus, when they came into being, the 
States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wis- 
consin found themselves congenitally incapable of becom- 
ing slave States. 

The further achievements of that generation in this 
matter were considerable. It must of course be under- 
stood that the holding of slaves and the slave trade from 
Africa were regarded as two distinct questions. The 
new Congress abolished the slave trade on the first day 
on which the Constitution allowed it to do so, that is, 
on January 1, 1808. The mother country abolished it 
just about the same time. But already all but three of 
the States had for themselves abolished the slave trade 
in their own borders. As to slavery itself, seven of the 
original thirteen States and Vermont, the first of the 
added States, had abolished that before 1805. These 
indeed were Northern States, where slavery was not of 
importance, but in Virginia there was, or had been till 
lately, a growing opinion that slavery was not economi- 
cal, and, with the ignorance common in one part of a 
country of the true conditions in another part, it was 
natural to look upon emancipation as a policy which 
would spread of itself. At any rate it is certain fact that 
the chief among the men who had made the Constitution 
had at that time so regarded it, and continued to do so. 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 39 

Under this belief and in the presence of many pressing 
subjects of interest the early movement for emancipation 
in America died down with its work half finished. 

But before this happy belief expired an economic event 
had happened which riveted slavery upon the South. In 
1793 Eli Whitney, a Yale student upon a holiday in 
the South, invented the first machine for cleaning cotton 
of its seeds. The export of cotton jumped from 192,000 
lbs. in 1 79 1 to 6,000,000 lbs. in 1795. Slave labour had 
been found, or was believed, to be especially economical 
in cotton growing. Slavery therefore rapidly became the 
mainstay of wealth and of the social system in South 
Carolina and throughout the far South; and in a little 
while the baser sort of planters in Virginia discovered 
that breeding slaves to sell down South was a very profit- 
able form of stock-raising. 

We may pass to the year 1820, when an enactment 
was passed by Congress which for thirty-four years there- 
after might be regarded as hardly less fundamental than 
the Constitution itself. Up till then nine new States had 
been added to the original thirteen. It was repugnant to 
principles still strong in the North that these States should 
be admitted to the Union with State Constitutions which 
permitted slavery. On the other hand, it was for two 
reasons important to the chief slave States, that they 
should be. They would otherwise be closed to Southern 
planters who wished to migrate to unexhausted soil carry- 
ing with them the methods of industry and the ways of 
life which they understood. Furthermore, the North 
was bound to have before long a great preponderance of 
population, and if this were not neutralised by keeping 
the number of States on one side and the other equal 
there would be a future political danger to slavery. Up 
to a certain point the North could with good conscience 
yield to the South in this matter, for the soil of four 
of the new slave States had been ceded to the Union by 
old slave States and slave-holders had settled freely upon 
it; and in a fifth, Louisiana, slavery had been safeguarded 
by the express stipulations of the treaty with France, 



40 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

which applied to that portion, though no other, of the 
territory then ceded. Naturally, then, it had happened, 
though without any definite agreement, that for years past 
slave States and free States had been admitted to the 
Union in pairs. Now arose the question of a further 
portion of the old French territory, the present State of 
Missouri. A few slave-holders with their slaves had in 
fact settled there, but no distinct claims on behalf of 
slavery could be alleged. The Northern Senators and 
members of Congress demanded therefore that the Con- 
stitution of Missouri should provide for the gradual ex- 
tinction of slavery there. Naturally there arose a con- 
troversy which sounded to the aged Jefferson like " a 
fire-bell in the night " and revealed for the first time to 
all America a deep rift in the Union. The Representa- 
tives of the South eventually carried their main point 
with the votes of several Northern men, known to history 
as the " Dough-faces," who all lost their seats at the 
next election. Missouri was admitted as a slave State, 
Maine about the same time as a free State; and it was 
enacted that thereafter in the remainder of the territory 
that had been bought from France slavery should be 
unlawful north of latitude 36° 30', while by tacit agree- 
ment permitted south of it. 

This was the Missouri Compromise. The North re- 
garded it at first as a humiliation, but learnt to point to 
it later as a sort of Magna Carta for the Northern terri- 
tories. The adoption of it marks a point from which 
it became for thirty-four years the express ambition of 
the principal American statesmen and the tacit object of 
every party manager to keep the slavery question from 
ever becoming again a burning issue in politics. The 
collapse of it in 1854 was to prove the decisive event 
in the career of Abraham Lincoln, aged 1 1 when it was 
passed. 

5. Leaders, Parties, and Tendencies in Lincoln* s Youth. 

Just about the year 1830, when Lincoln started life 
in Illinois, several distinct movements in national life 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 41 

began or culminated. They link themselves with several 
famous names. 

The two leaders to whom, as a young politician, 
Lincoln owed some sort of allegiance were Webster and 
Clay, and they continued throughout his long political 
apprenticeship to be recognised in most of America as 
the great men of their time. Daniel Webster must have 
been nearly a great man. He was always passed over 
for the Presidency. That was not so much because of 
the private failings which marked his robust and generous 
character, as because in days of artificial party issues, 
when vital questions are dealt with by mere compromise, 
high office seems to belong of right to men of less origi- 
nality. If he was never quite so great as all America took 
him to be, it was not for want of brains or of honesty, 
but because his consuming passion for the Union at all 
costs led him into the path of least apparent risk to it. 
Twice as Secretary of State (that is, chiefly, Foreign 
Minister) he showed himself a statesman, but above all 
he was an orator and one of those rare orators who 
accomplish a definite task by their oratory. In his style 
he carried on the tradition of English Parliamentary 
speaking, and developed its vices yet further; but the 
massive force of argument behind gave him his real 
power. That power he devoted to the education of the 
people in a feeling for the nation and for its greatness. 
As an advocate he had appeared in great cases in the 
Supreme Court. John Marshall, the Chief Justice from 
1 801 to 1835, brought a great legal mind of the higher 
type to the settlement of doubtful points in the Constitu- 
tion, and his statesmanlike judgments did much both to 
strengthen the United States Government and to gain 
public confidence for it. It was a memorable work, for 
the power of the Union Government, under its new Con- 
stitution, lay in the grip of the Courts. The pleading 
of the young Webster contributed much to this. Later 
on Webster, and a school of followers, of whom perhaps 
we may take " our Elijah Pogram V to have been one, 
used ceremonial occasions, on which Englishmen only 



42 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

suffer the speakers, for the purpose of inculcating their 
patriotic doctrine, and Webster at least was doing good. 
His greatest speech, upon an occasion to which we shall 
shortly come, was itself an event. Lincoln found in it 
as inspiring a political treatise as many Englishmen have 
discovered in the speeches and writings of Burke. 

Henry Clay was a slighter but more attractive person. 
He was apparently the first American public man whom 
his countrymen styled " magnetic," but a sort of schem- 
ing instability caused him after one or two trials to be 
set down as an u impossible " candidate for the Presi- 
dency. As a dashing young man from the West he had 
the chief hand in forcing on the second war with Great 
Britain, from 1812 to 181 4, which arose out of perhaps 
insufficient causes and ended in no clear result, but which, 
it is probable, marked a stage in the growth of loyalty 
to America. As an older man he was famed as an 
" architect of compromises," for though he strove for 
emancipation in his own State, Kentucky, and dreamed 
of a great scheme for colonising the slaves in Africa, he 
was supremely anxious to avert collision between North 
and South, and in this respect was typical of his genera- 
tion. But about 1830 he was chiefly known as the apostle 
of what was called the u American policy." This was a 
policy which aimed at using the powers of the national 
Government for the development of the boundless re- 
sources of the country. Its methods comprised a national 
banking system, the use of the money of the Union on 
great public works, and a protective tariff, which it was 
hoped might chiefly operate to encourage promising but 
" infant " industries and to tax the luxuries of the rich. 
Whatever may have been the merits of this policy, which 
made some commotion for a few years, we can easily 
understand that it appealed to the imagination of young 
Lincoln at a time of keen political energy on his part of 
which we have but meagre details. 

A third celebrity of this period, in his own locality 
a still more powerful man, was John Caldwell Calhoun, 
of South Carolina. He enjoyed beyond all his con« 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 43 

temporaries the fame of an intellectual person. Lincoln 
conceded high admiration to his concise and penetrating 
phrases. An Englishwoman, Harriet Martineau, who 
knew him, has described him as " embodied intellect." 
He had undoubtedly in full measure those negative titles 
to respect which have gone far in America to ensure 
praise from the public and the historians; for he was 
correct and austere, and, which is more, kindly among 
his family and his slaves. He is credited, too, with an 
observance of high principle in public life, which it might 
be difficult to illustrate from his recorded actions. But 
the warmer-blooded Andrew Jackson set him down as 
" heartless, selfish, and a physical coward," and Jackson 
could speak generously of an opponent whom he really 
knew. His intellect must have been powerful enough, but 
it was that of a man who delights in arguing, and delights 
in elaborate deductions from principles which he is too 
proud to revise; a man, too, who is fearless in accepting 
conclusions which startle or repel the vulgar mind; who 
is undisturbed in his logical processes by good sense, 
healthy sentiment, or any vigorous appetite for truth. 
Such men have disciples who reap the disgrace which their 
masters are apt somehow to avoid; they give the prestige 
of wisdom and high thought to causes which could not 
otherwise earn themV A Northern soldier came back 
wounded in 1865 and described to the next soldier in the 
hospital Calhoun's monument at Charleston. The other 
said: "What you saw is not the real monument, but I 
have seen it. It is the desolated, ruined South. . . . 
That is Calhoun's real monument." 

This man was a Radical, and known as the successor 
of Jefferson, but his Radicalism showed itself in drawing 
inspiration solely from the popular catchwords of his 
own locality. He adored the Union, but it was to be 
a Union directed by distinguished politicians from the 
South in a sectional Southern interest. He did not origi- 
nate, but he secured the strength of orthodoxy and 
fashion to a tone of sentiment and opinion which for a 
generation held undisputed supremacy in the heart of 



U ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the South. Americans might have seemed at this time 
to be united in a curiously exultant national self-conscious- 
ness, but though there was no sharp division of sections, 
the boasted glory of the one America meant to many 
planters in the South the glory of their own settled and 
free life with their dignified equals round them and their 
often contented dependents under them. Plain men 
among them doubtless took things as they were, and, 
without any particular wish to change them, did not pre- 
tend they were perfect. But it is evident that in a widen- 
ing circle of clever young men in the South the claim of 
some peculiar virtue for Southern institutions became 
habitual in the first half of the nineteenth century. Their 
way of life was beautiful in their eyes. It rested upon 
slavery. Therefore slavery was a good thing. It was 
wicked even to criticise it, and it was weak to apologise 
for it or to pretend that it needed reformation. It was 
easy and it became apparently universal for the different 
Churches of the South to prostitute the Word of God in 
this cause. Later on crude notions of evolution began to 
get about in a few circles of advanced thought, and these 
lent themselves as easily to the same purpose. Loose, 
floating thoughts of this kind might have mattered little. 
Calhoun, as the recognised wise man of the old South, 
concentrated them and fastened them upon its people as 
a creed. Glorification of " our institution at the South " 
became the main principle of Southern politicians, and 
any conception that there may ever have been of a task 
for constructive statesmanship, in solving the negro 
problem, passed into oblivion under the influence of his 
revered reasoning faculty. 

But, of his dark and dangerous sort, Calhoun was an 
able man. He foresaw early that the best weapon of 
the common interest of the slave States lay in the rights 
which might be claimed for each individual State against 
the Union. The idea that a discontented State might 
secede from the Union was not novel — it had been mooted 
in New England, during the last war against Great 
Britain, and, curiously enough, among the rump of the 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 45 

old Federalist party, but it was generally discounted. 
Calhoun first brought it into prominence, veiled in an 
elaborate form which some previous South Carolinian 
had devised. The occasion had nothing to do with 
slavery. It concerned Free Trade, a very respectable 
issue, but so clearly a minor issue that to break up a great 
country upon it would have gone beyond the limit of 
solemn frivolity, and Calhoun must be taken to have 
been forging an implement with which his own section 
of the States could claim and extort concessions from the 
Union. A protective tariff had been passed in 1828. 
The Southern States, which would have to pay the pro- 
tective duties but did not profit by them, disliked it. 
Calhoun and others took the intelligible but too refined 
point, that the powers of Congress under the Constitu- 
tion authorised a tariff for revenue but not a tariff for a 
protective purpose. Every State, Calhoun declared, must 
have the Constitutional right to protect itself against an 
Act of Congress which it deemed unconstitutional. Let 
such a State, in special Convention, " nullify " the Act 
of Congress. Let Congress then, unless it compromised 
the matter, submit its Act to the people in the form of an 
Amendment to the Constitution. It would then require 
a three-fourths majority of all the States to pass the 
obnoxious Act. Last but not least, if the Act was passed, 
the protesting State had, Calhoun claimed, the right to 
secede from the Union. 

Controversy over this tariff raged for fully four years, 
and had a memorable issue. In the course of 1830 the 
doctrine of " nullification " and " secession " was dis- 
cussed in the Senate, and the view of Calhoun was ex- 
pounded by one Senator Hayne. Webster answered him 
in a speech which he meant should become a popular 
classic, and which did become so. He set forth his own 
doctrine of the Union and appealed to national against 
State loyalty in the most influential oration that was 
perhaps ever made. " His utterance/* writes President 
Wilson, " sent a thrill through all the East and North 
which was unmistakably a thrill of triumph. Men were 



46 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

glad because of what he had said. He had touched 
the national self-consciousness, awakened it, and pleased 
it with a morning vision of its great tasks and certain 
destiny." Later there came in the President, the re- 
doubtable Andrew Jackson, the most memorable Presi- 
dent between Jefferson and Lincoln. He said very little 
— only, on Jefferson's birthday he gave the toast, " Our 
Federal Union; it must be preserved." But when in 
1832, in spite of concessions by Congress, a Convention 
was summoned in South Carolina to " nullify " the tariff, 
he issued the appropriate orders to the United States 
Army, in case such action was carried out, and it is under- 
stood that he sent Calhoun private word that he would 
be the first man to be hanged for treason. Nullification 
quietly collapsed. The North was thrilled still more 
than by Webster's oratory, and as not a single other State 
showed signs of backing South Carolina, it became thence- 
forth the fixed belief of the North that the Union was 
recognised as in law indissoluble, as Webster contended 
it was. None the less the idea of secession had been 
planted, and planted in a fertile soil. 

General Andrew Jackson, whose other great achieve- 
ments must now be told, was not an intellectual person, 
but his ferocious and, in the literal sense, shocking char- 
acter is refreshing to the student of this period. He 
had been in his day the typical product of the West — 
a far wilder West than that from which Lincoln later 
came. Originally a lawyer, he had won martial fame 
in fights with Indians and in the celebrated victory over 
the British forces at New Orleans. He was a sincere 
Puritan; and he had a courtly dignity of manner; but he 
was of arbitrary and passionate temper, and he was a 
sanguinary duellist. His most savage duels, it should 
be added, concerned the honour of a lady whom he 
married chivalrously, and loved devotedly to the end. 
The case that can be made for his many arbitrary acts 
shows them in some instances to have been justifiable, and 
shows him in general to have been honest. 

When in 1824 Jackson had expected to become 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 47 

President, and, owing to proceedings which do not now 
matter, John Quincy Adams, son of a former President, 
and himself a remarkable man, was made President 
instead of him, Jackson resolved to overthrow the ruling 
class of Virginian country gentlemen and Boston city mag- 
nates which seemed to him to control Government, and 
to call into life a real democracy. To this end he 
created a new party, against which of course an opposi- 
tion party arose. 

Neither of the new parties was in any sense either 
aristocratic or democratic. " The Democracy," or Demo- 
cratic party, has continued in existence ever since, and 
through most of Lincoln's life ruled America. In trying 
to fix the character of a party in a foreign country we 
cannot hope to be exact in our portraiture. At the first 
start, however, this party was engaged in combating 
certain tendencies to Government interference in busi- 
ness. It was more especially hostile to a National Bank, 
which Jackson himself regarded as a most dangerous 
form of alliance between the administration and the 
richest class. Of the growth of what may be called the 
money power in American politics he had an intense, 
indeed prophetic, dread. Martin Van Buren, his friend 
and successor, whatever else he may have been, was 
a sound economist of what is now called the old school, 
and on a financial issue he did what few men in his 
office have done, he deliberately sacrificed his popularity 
to his principles. Beyond this the party was and has 
continued prone, in a manner which we had better not 
too clearly define, to insist upon the restrictions of the 
Constitution, whether in the interest of individual liberty 
or of State rights. This tendency was disguised at the 
first by the arbitrary action of Jackson's own proceedings, 
for Jackson alone among Presidents displayed the senti- 
ments of what may be called a popular despot. Its 
insistence upon State rights, aided perhaps by its dislike 
of Protection, attracted to it the leading politicians of the 
South, who in the main dominated its counsels, though 
later on they liked to do it through Northern instru- 



48 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

ments. But it must not in the least be imagined that 
either party was Northern or Southern; for there were 
many Whigs in the South, and very many Democrats in 
the North. Moreover, it should be clearly grasped, 
though it is hard, that among Northern Democrats in- 
sistence on State rights did not involve the faintest lean- 
ing towards the doctrine of secession; on the contrary 
a typical Democrat would believe that these limitations 
to the power of the Union were the very things that 
gave it endurance and strength. Slavery, moreover, had 
friends and foes in both parties. If we boldly attempted 
to define the prevailing tone of the Democrats we might 
say that, while they and their opponents expressed loyalty 
to the Union and the Constitution, the Democrats would 
be prone to lay the emphasis upon the Constitution. 
Whatever might be the case with an average Whig, a 
man like Lincoln would be stirred in his heart by the 
general spirit of the country's institutions, while the 
typical Democrat of that time would dwell affectionately 
on the legal instruments and formal maxims in which that 
spirit was embodied. 

Of the Whigs it is a little harder to speak definitely, 
nor is it very necessary, for in two only out of seven 
Presidential elections did they elect their candidate, and 
in each case that candidate then died, and in 1854 they 
perished as a party utterly and for ever. Just for a 
time they were identified with the " American policy !! 
of Clay. When that passed out of favour they never 
really attempted to formulate any platform, or to take 
permanently any very definite stand. They nevertheless 
had the adherence of the ablest men of the country, 
and, as an opposition party to a party in power which 
furnished much ground for criticism, they possessed an 
attraction for generous youth. 

The Democrats at once, and the Whigs not long after 
them, created elaborate party machines, on the need of 
which Jackson insisted as the only means of really giving 
influence to the common people. The prevailing system 
and habit of local self-government made such organisa- 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 49 

tion easy. Men of one party in a township or in a 
county assembled, formulated their opinions, and sent 
delegates with instructions, more or less precise, to party 
conventions for larger areas, these would send delegates 
to the State Convention and these in turn to the Na- 
tional Convention of the Party. The party candidates 
for the Presidency, as well as for all other elective posi- 
tions, were and are thus chosen, and the party " plat- 
form " or declaration of policy was and is thus formu- 
lated. Such machinery, which in England is likely always 
to play a less important part, has acquired an evil name. 
At the best there has always been a risk that a " plat- 
form " designed to detach voters from the opposite party 
will be an insincere and eviscerated document, by which 
active public opinion is rather muzzled than expressed. 
There has been a risk too that the " available M candidate 
should be some blameless nonentity, to whom no one 
objects, and whom therefore no one really wants. But it 
must be observed that the rapidity with which such 
organisation was taken up betokened the prevalence of 
a widespread and keen interest in political affairs. 

The days of really great moneyed interests and of 
corruption of the gravest sort were as yet far distant, 
but one demoralising influence was imposed upon the 
new party system by its author at its birth. Jackson, 
in his perpetual fury, believed that office holders under 
the more or less imaginary ruling clique that had held 
sway were a corrupt gang, and he began to turn them 
out. He was encouraged to extend to the whole country 
a system which had prevailed in New York and with 
which Van Buren was too familiar. " To the victors 
belong the spoils," exclaimed a certain respectable Mr. 
Marcy. A wholesale dismissal of office holders large 
and small, and replacement of them by sound Demo- 
crats, soon took place. Once started, the " spoils system " 
could hardly be stopped. Thenceforward there was a 
standing danger that the party machine would be in the 
hands of a crew of jobbers and dingy hunters after 
petty offices. England, of course, has had and now has 



50 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

practices theoretically as indefensible, but none pos- 
sessing any such sinister importance. It is hard, there- 
fore, for us to conceive how little of really vicious intent 
was necessary to set this disastrous influence going. There 
was no trained Civil Service with its unpartisan tradi- 
tions. In the case of offices corresponding to those of 
our permanent heads of departments it seemed reasonable 
that the official should, like his chief the Minister con- 
cerned, be a person in harmony with the President. As 
to the smaller offices — the thousands of village post- 
masterships and so forth — one man was likely to do the 
work as well as another; the dispossessed official could, 
in the then condition of the country, easily find another 
equally lucrative employment; u turn and turn about " 
seemed to be the rule of fair play. 

There were now few genuine issues in politics. Com- 
promise on vital questions was understood to be the 
highest statesmanship. The Constitution itself, with its 
curious system of checks and balances, rendered it diffi- 
cult to bring anything to pass. Added to this was a party 
system with obvious natural weaknesses, infected from 
the first with a dangerous malady. The political life, 
which lay on the surface of the national life of America, 
thus began to assume an air of futility, and, it must be 
added, of squalor. . Only, Englishmen, recollecting the 
feebleness and corruption which marked their aristocratic 
government through a great part of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, must not enlarge their phylacteries at the expense 
of American democracy. And it is yet more important to 
remember that the fittest machinery for popular govern- 
ment, the machinery through which the real judgment of 
the people will prevail, can only by degrees and after 
many failures be devised. Popular government was then 
young, and it is young still. 

So much for the great world of politics in those days. 
But in or about 1830 a Quaker named Lundy had, as 
Quakers used to say, " a concern " to walk 125 miles 
through the snow of a New England winter and speak 
his mind to William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison was a 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 51 

poor man who, like Franklin, had raised himself as a 
working printer, and was now occupied in philanthropy. 
Stirred up by Lundy, he succeeded after many painful 
experiences, in gaol and among mobs, in publishing in 
Boston on January 1, 1831, the first number of the 
Liberator. In it he said : " I shall strenuously contend 
for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave popula- 
tion. I will be as hard as truth and as uncompromising 
as justice. I will not equivocate; I will not excuse; I 
will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard." This 
was the beginning of the new Abolitionist movement. 
The Abolitionists, in the main, were impracticable people; 
Garrison in the end proved otherwise. Under the exist- 
ing Constitution, they had nothing to propose but that 
the free States should withdraw from " their covenant 
with death and agreement with hell " — in other words, 
from the Union, — whereby they would not have liberated 
one slave. They included possibly too many of that 
sort who would seek salvation by repenting of other 
men's sins. But even these did not indulge this pro- 
pensity at their ease, for by this time the politicians, the 
polite world, the mass of the people, the churches (even 
in Boston), not merely avoided the dangerous topic; 
they angrily proscribed it. The Abolitionists took their 
lives in their hands, and sometimes lost them. Only 
two men of standing helped them: Channing, the great 
preacher, who sacrificed thereby a fashionable congrega : 
tion; and Adams, the sour, upright, able ex-President, the 
only ex-President who ever made for himself an after- 
career in Congress. In 1852 a still more potent ally 
came to their help, a poor lady, Mrs. Beecher Stowe, who 
in that year published " Uncle Tom's Cabin," often said 
to have influenced opinion more than any other book of 
modern times. Broadly speaking, they accomplished two 
things. If they did not gain love in quarters where they 
might have looked for it, they gained the very valuable 
hatred of their enemies; for they goaded Southern poli- 
ticians to fury and madness, of which the first symptom 
was their effort to suppress Abolitionist petitions to Con- 



52 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

gress. But above all they educated in their labour of 
thirty years a school of opinion, not entirely in agree- 
ment with them but ready one day to revolt with decision 
from continued complicity in wrong. 

6. Slavery and Southern Society. 

In the midst of this growing America, a portion, by 
no means sharply marked off, and accustomed to the end 
to think itself intensely American, was distinguished 
by a peculiar institution. What was the character of 
that institution as it presented itself in 1830 and onwards? 

Granting, as many slave holders did, though their 
leaders always denied it, that slavery originated in foul 
wrongs and rested legally upon a vile principle, what 
did it look like in its practical working? Most of us 
have received from two different sources two broad but 
vivid general impressions on this subject, which seem 
hard to reconcile but which are both in the main true. 
On the one hand, a visitor from England or the North, 
coming on a visit to the South, or in earlier days to the 
British West Indies, expecting perhaps to see all the 
horror of slavery at a glance, would be, as a young 
British officer once wrote home, " most agreeably un- 
deceived as to the situation of these poor people. " He 
would discern at once that a Southern gentleman had 
no more notion of using his legal privilege to be cruel to 
his slave than he himself had of overdriving his old 
horse. He might easily on the contrary find quite ordi- 
nary slave owners who had a very decided sense of 
responsibility in regard to their human chattels. Around 
his host's house, where the owner's children, petted by a 
black nurse, played with the little black children or with 
some beloved old negro, he might see that pretty aspect 
of " our institution at the South, " which undoubtedly 
created in many young Southerners as they grew up a 
certain amount of genuine sentiment in favour of slavery. 
Riding wider afield he might be struck, as General Sher- 
man was, with the contentment of the negroes whom he 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 53 

met on the plantations. On enquiry he would learn that 
the slave in old age was sure of food and shelter and 
free from work, and that as he approached old age his 
task was systematically diminished. As to excessive toil 
at any time of life, he would perhaps conclude that it 
was no easy thing to drive a gang of Africans really hard. 
He would be assured, quite incorrectly, that the slave's 
food and comfort generally were greater than those of 
factory workers in the North, and, perhaps only too 
truly, that his privations were less than those of the 
English agricultural labourer at that time. A wide and 
careful survey of the subject was made by Frederick 
Law Olmsted, a New York farmer, who wrote what but 
for their gloomy subject would be among the best books 
of travel. He presents to us the picture of a prevail- 
ingly sullen, sapless, brutish life, but certainly not of 
acute misery or habitual oppression. A Southerner old 
enough to remember slavery would probably not question 
the accuracy of his details, but would insist, very likely 
with truth, that there was more human happiness there 
than an investigator on such a quest would readily dis- 
cover. Even on large plantations in the extreme South, 
where the owner only lived part of the year, and most 
things had to be left to an almost always unsatisfactory 
overseer, the verdict of the observer was apt to be " not 
so bad as I expected. " 

On the other hand, many of us know Longfellow's 
grim poem of the Hunted Negro. It is a true picture of 
the life led in the Dismal Swamps of Virginia by numbers 
of skulking fugitives, till the industry of negro-hunting, 
conducted with hounds of considerable value, ultimately 
made their lairs untenable. The scenes in the auction 
room where, perhaps on the death or failure of their 
owner, husbands and wives, parents and children, were 
constantly being severed, and negresses were habitually 
puffed as brood mares; the gentleman who had lately sold 
his half-brother, to be sent far south, because he was 
impudent; the devilish cruelty with which almost the only 
recorded slave insurrection was stamped out; the chase 



54 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

and capture and return in fetters of slaves who had 
escaped north, or, it might be, of free negroes in their 
place; the advertisements for such runaways, which 
Dickens collected, and which described each by his scars 
or mutilations; the systematic slave breeding, for the 
supply of the cotton States, which had become a staple 
industry of the once glorious Virginia; the demand aris- 
ing for the restoration of the African slave trade — all 
these were realities. The Southern people, in the phrase 
of President Wilson, u knew that their lives were honour- 
able, their relations with their slaves humane, their re- 
sponsibility for the existence of slavery amongst them 
remote "; they burned with indignation when the whole 
South was held responsible for the occasional abuses 
of slavery. But the harsh philanthropist, who denounced 
them indiscriminately, merely dwelt on those aspects of 
slavery which came to his knowledge or which he actually 
saw on the border line. And the occasional abuses, how- 
ever occasional, were made by the deliberate choice of 
Southern statesmanship an essential part of the institu- 
tion. Honourable and humane men in the South scorned 
exceedingly the slave hunter and the slave dealer. A 
candid slave owner, discussing u Uncle Tom's Cabin, " 
found one detail flagrantly unfair; the ruined master 
would have had to sell his slaves to the brute, Legree, but 
for the world he would not have shaken hands with him. 
" Your children," exclaimed Lincoln, " may play with 
the little black children, but they must not play with 
his " — the slave dealer's, or the slave driver's, or the 
slave hunter's. By that fact alone, as he bitingly but 
unanswerably insisted, the whole decent society of the 
South condemned the foundation on which it rested. 

It is needless to discuss just how dark or how fair 
American slavery in its working should be painted. The 
moderate conclusions which are quite sufficient for our 
purpose are uncontested. First, this much must certainly 
be conceded to those who would defend the slave system, 
that in the case of the average slave it was very doubt- 
ful whether his happiness (apart from that of future 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 55 

generations) could be increased by suddenly turning him 
into a free man working for a wage; justice would cer- 
tainly have demanded that the change should be ac- 
companied by other provisions for his benefit. But, 
secondly, on the refractory negro, more vicious, or some- 
times, one may suspect, more manly than his fellows, the 
system was likely to act barbarously. Thirdly, every slave 
family was exposed to the risk, on such occasions as the 
death or great impoverishment of its owner, of being 
ruthlessly torn asunder, and the fact that negroes often 
rebounded or seemed to rebound from sorrows of this 
sort with surprising levity does not much lessen the horror 
of it. Fourthly, it is inherent in slavery that its burden 
should be most felt precisely by the best minds and 
strongest characters among the slaves. And, though the 
capacity of the negroes for advancement could not then 
and cannot yet be truly measured, yet it existed, and 
the policy of the South shut the door upon it. Lastly, 
the system abounded in brutalising influences upon a large 
number of white people who were accessory to it, and 
notoriously it degraded the poor or " mean whites," for 
whom it left no industrial opening, and among whom it 
caused work to be despised. 

There is thus no escape from Lincoln's judgment: 
" If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong." It does 
not follow that the way to right the wrong was simple, 
or that instant and unmitigated emancipation was the 
best way. But it does follow that, failing this, it was 
for the statesmen of the South to devise a policy by which 
the most flagrant evils should be stopped, and, however 
cautiously and experimentally, the raising of the status 
of the slave should be proceeded with. It does not 
follow that the people who, on one pretext or another, 
shut their eyes to the evil of the system, while they tried 
to keep their personal dealing humane, can be sweepingly 
condemned by any man. But it does follow that a 
deliberate and sustained policy which, neglecting all re- 
form, strove at all costs to perpetuate the system and 
extend it to wider regions, was as criminal a policy as 



56 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

ever lay at the door of any statesmen. And this, in fact, 
became the policy of the South. 

" The South " meant, for political purposes, the 
owners of land and slaves in the greater part of the 
States in which slavery was lawful. The poor whites 
never acquired the political importance of the working 
classes in the North, and count for little in the story. 
Some of the more northerly slave States partook in a 
greater degree of the conditions and ideas of the North 
and were doubtfully to be reckoned with the South. 
Moreover, there is a tract of mountainous country, lying 
between the Atlantic sea-board and the basin of the Mis- 
sissippi and extending southwards to the borders of 
Georgia and Alabama, of which the very vigorous and 
independent inhabitants were and are in many ways a 
people apart, often cherishing to this day family feuds 
which are prosecuted in the true spirit of the Icelandic 
Sagas. 

The South, excluding these districts, was predominantly 
Democratic in politics, and its leaders owed some allegi- 
ance to the tradition of Radicals like Jefferson. But it 
was none the less proud of its aristocracy and of the 
permeating influence of aristocratic manners and tradi- 
tions. A very large number of Southerners felt them- 
selves to be ladies and gentlemen, and felt further that 
there were few or none like them among the " Yankee " 
traders of the North. A claim of that sort is likely to 
be aggressively made by those who have least title to 
make it, and, as strife between North and South grew 
hotter, the gentility of the latter infected with additional 
vulgarity the political controversy of private life and even 
of Congress. But, as observant Northerners were quite 
aware, these pretensions had a foundation of fact. An 
Englishman, then or now, in chance meetings with Ameri- 
cans of either section, would at once be aware of some- 
thing indefinable in their bearing to which he was a 
stranger; but in the case of the Southerner the strange- 
ness would often have a positive charm, such as may be 
found also among people of the Old World under south- 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 57 

ern latitudes and relatively primitive conditions. Newly- 
gotten and ill-carried wealth was in those days (Mr. 
Olmsted, of New York State, assures us) as offensive in 
the more recently developed and more prosperous parts 
of the South as in New York City itself; and throughout 
the South sound instruction and intellectual activity were 
markedly lacking — indeed, there is no serious Southern 
literature by which we can check these impressions of 
his. Comparing the masses of moderately well-to-do 
and educated people with whom he associated in the 
North and in the South, he finds them both free from 
the peculiar vulgarity which, we may be pained to know, 
he had discovered among us in England ; he finds honesty 
and dishonesty in serious matters of conduct as prevalent 
in one section as in the other; he finds the Northerner 
better taught and more alert in mind; but he ascribes 
to him an objectionable quality of " smartness," a de- 
termination to show you that he is a stirring and pushing 
fellow, from which the Southerner is wholly free ; and he 
finds that the Southerner has derived from home in- 
fluences and from boarding schools in which the influence 
of many similar homes is concentrated, not indeed any 
great refinement, but a manner which is " more true, more 
quiet, more modestly self-assured, more dignified." This 
advantage, we are to understand, is diffused over a com- 
paratively larger class than in England. Beyond this he 
discerns in a few parts of the South and notably in South 
Carolina a somewhat inaccessible, select society, of which 
the nucleus is formed by a few (incredibly few) old 
Colonial families which have not gone under, and which 
altogether is so small that some old gentlewomen can 
enumerate all the members of it. Few as they are, these 
form " unquestionably a wealthy and remarkably gener- 
ous, refined, and accomplished first class, clinging with 
some pertinacity, although with too evident an effort, 
to the traditional manners and customs of an established 
gentry." 

No doubt the sense of high breeding, which was com- 
mon in the South, went beyond mere manners; it played 



58 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

its part in making the struggle of the Southern population, 
including the " mean whites," in the Civil War one of 
the most heroic, if one of the most mistaken, in which 
a whole population has ever been engaged; it went along 
with integrity and a high average of governing capacity 
among public men; and it fitted the gentry of the South 
to contribute, when they should choose, an element of 
great value to the common life of America. As it was, 
the South suffered to the full the political degeneration 
which threatens every powerful class which, with a dis- 
tinct class interest of its own, is secluded from real con- 
tact with competing classes with other interests and other 
ideas. It is not to be assumed that all individual South- 
erners liked the policy which they learnt to support in 
docile masses. But their very qualities of loyalty made 
them the more ready, under accepted and respected 
leaders, to adopt political aims and methods which no 
man now recalls without regret 

The connection between slavery and politics was this: 
as population slowly grew in the South, and as the land 
in the older States became to some extent exhausted, the 
desire for fresh territory in which cultivation by slaves 
could flourish became stronger and stronger. This was 
the reason for which the South became increasingly aware 
of a sectional interest in politics. In all other respects the 
community of public interests, of business dealings, and 
of general intercourse was as great between North and 
South as between East and West. It is certain that 
throughout the South, with the doubtful exception of 
South Carolina, political instinct and patriotic pride would 
have made the idea of separation intolerable upon any 
ground except that of slavery. In regard to this matter 
of dispute a peculiar phenomenon is to be observed. The 
quarrel grew not out of any steady opposition between 
North and South, but out of the habitual domination of 
the country by the South and the long-continued sub- 
mission of the North to that domination. 

For the North had its full share of blame for the long 
course of proceedings which prepared the coming tragedy, 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 59 

and the most impassioned writers on the side of the 
Union during the Civil War have put that blame highest. 
The South became arrogant and wrong-headed, and no 
defence is possible for the chief acts of Southern policy 
which will be recorded later; but the North was abject. 
To its own best sons it seemed to have lost both its 
conscience and its manhood, and to be stifled in the coils 
of its own miserable political apparatus. Certainly the 
prevailing attitude of the Northern to the Southern poli- 
ticians was that of truckling. And Southerners who went 
to Washington had a further reason for acquiring a fatal 
sense of superiority to the North. The tradition of 
popular government which maintained itself in the South 
caused men who were respected, in private life, and were 
up to a point capable leaders, who were, in short, repre- 
sentative, to be sent to Congress and to be kept there. 
The childish perversion of popular government which 
took hold of the newer and more unsettled population in 
the North led them to send to Congress an ever-changing 
succession of unmeritable and sometimes shady people. 
The eventual stirring of the mind of the North which 
so closely concerns this biography was a thing hard to 
bring about, and to the South it brought a great shock 
of surprise. 

7. Intellectual Development. 

No survey of the political movements of this period 
should conclude without directing attention to something 
more important, which cannot be examined here. In 
the years from 1830 till some time after the death of 
Lincoln, America made those contributions to the litera- 
ture of our common language which, though neither her 
first nor her last, seemed likely to be most permanently 
valued. The learning and literature of America at that 
time centred round Boston and Harvard University in the 
adjacent city of Cambridge, and no invidious comparison 
is intended or will be felt if they, with their poets and 
historians and men of letters at that time, with their 
peculiar atmosphere, instinct then and now with a life 



60 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

athletic, learned, business-like and religious, are taken to 
show the dawning capacities of the new nation. No places 
in the United States exhibit more visibly the kinship of 
America with England, yet in none certainly can a 
stranger see more readily that America is independent of 
the Old World in something more than politics. Many 
of their streets and buildings would in England seem 
redolent of the past, yet no cities of the Eastern States 
played so large a part in the development, material and 
mental, of the raw and vigorous West. The limitations 
of their greatest writers are in a manner the sign of their 
achievement. It would have been contrary to all human 
analogy if a country, in such an early stage of creation 
out of such a chaos, had put forth books marked strongly 
as its own and yet as the products of a mature national 
mind. It would also have been surprising if since the 
Civil War the rush of still more appalling and more com- 
plex practical problems had not obstructed for a while 
the flow of imaginative or scientific production. But the 
growth of those relatively early years was great. Boston 
had been the home of a loveless Christianity; its insur* 
rection in the War of Independence had been soiled by 
shifty dealing and mere acidity; but Boston from the 
days of Emerson to those of Phillips Brooks radiated 
a temper and a mental force that was manly, tender, and 
clean. The man among these writers about whose exact 
rank, neither low nor very high among poets, there can 
be least dispute was Longfellow. He might seem from 
his favourite subjects to be hardly American; it was his 
deliberately chosen task to bring to the new country some 
savour of things gentle and mellow caught from the litera- 
ture of Europe. But, in the first place, no writer could 
in the detail of his work have been more racy of that 
New England countryside which lay round his home; 
and, in the second place, no writer could have spoken 
more unerringly to the ear of the whole wide America 
of which his home was a little part. It seems strange to 
couple the name of this mild and scholarly man with the 
thought of that crude Western world to which we must 



GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN NATION 61 

in a moment pass. But the connection is real and vital. 
It is well shown in the appreciation written of him and 
his fellows by the American writer who most violently 
contrasts with him, Walt Whitman. 

A student of American history may feel something like 
the experience which is common among travellers in 
America. When they come home they cannot tell their 
friends what really interested them. Ugly things and 
Very dull things are prominent in their story, as in the 
tales of American humorists. The general impression 
they convey is of something tiresomely extensive, distract- 
ingly miscellaneous, and yet insufferably monotonous. 
But that is not what they mean. They had better not 
seek to express themselves by too definite instances. They 
will be understood and believed when they say that to 
them America, with its vast spaces from ocean to ocean, 
does present itself as one country, not less worthy than 
any other of the love which it has actually inspired; a 
country which is the home of distinctive types of man- 
hood and womanhood, bringing their own addition to the 
varying forms in which kindness and courage and truth 
make themselves admirable to mankind. The soul of 
a single people seems to be somewhere present in that 
great mass, no less than in some tiny city State of antiq- 
uity. Only it has to struggle, submerged evermore by a 
flood of newcomers, and defeated evermore by difficulties 
quite unlike those of other lands; and it struggles seem- 
ingly with undaunted and with rational hope. 

Americans are fond of discussing Americanism. Very 
often they select as a pattern of it Abraham Lincoln, the 
man who kept the North together but has been pro- 
nounced to have been a Southerner in his inherited char- 
acter. Whether he was so typical or not, it is the central 
fact of this biography that no man ever pondered more 
deeply in his own way, or answered more firmly the ques- 
tion whether there was indeed an American nationality 
worth preserving. 



CHAPTER III 

Lincoln's early career 

I. Life at New Salem, 

From this talk of large political movements we have 
to recall ourselves to a young labouring man with hardly 
any schooling, naturally and incurably uncouth, but with 
a curious, quite modest, impulse to assert a kindly 
ascendency over the companions whom chance threw in 
his way, and with something of the gift, which odd, shy 
people often possess, for using their very oddity as a 
weapon in their struggles. In the conditions of real 
equality which still prevailed in a newly settled country 
it is not wonderful that he made his way into political 
life when he was twenty-five, but it was not till twenty 
years later that he played an important part in events 
of enduring significance. 

Thus the many years of public activity with which we 
are concerned in this and the following chapter belong 
rather to his apprenticeship than to his life's work; and 
this apprenticeship at first sight contrasts more strongly 
with his fame afterwards than does his boyhood of 
poverty and comparatively romantic hardship. For 
many poor boys have lived to make a great mark on 
history, but as a rule they have entered early on a life 
either of learning or of adventure or of large business. 
But the affairs in which Lincoln early became immersed 
have an air of pettiness, and from the point of view of 
most educated men and women in the Eastern States or 
in Europe, many of the associates and competitors of 
his early manhood, to whom he had to look up as his 
superiors in knowledge, would certainly have seemed 
crude people with a narrow horizon. Indeed, till he was 
called upon to take supreme control of very great mat- 

62 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 63 

ters, Lincoln must have had singularly little intercourse 
either with men versed in great affairs or with men of 
approved intellectual distinction. But a mind too original 
to be subdued to its surroundings found much that was 
stimulating in this time when Illinois was beginning 
rapidly to fill up. There were plenty of men with 
shrewd wits and robust character to be met with, and 
the mental atmosphere which surrounded him was one 
of keen interest in life. Lincoln eventually stands out 
as a surprising figure from among the other lawyers and 
little politicians of Illinois, as any great man does from 
any crowd, but some tribute is due to the undistinguished 
and historically uninteresting men whose generous ap- 
preciation gave rapid way to the poor, queer youth, and 
ultimately pushed him into a greater arena as their 
selected champion. 

In 1 83 1, at the age of twenty-two, Lincoln, returning 
from his New Orleans voyage, settled in New Salem to 
await the arrival of his patron, Denton Offutt, with the 
goods for a new store in which Lincoln was to be his 
assistant. The village itself was three years old. It 
never got much beyond a population of one hundred, 
and like many similar little towns of the West it has 
long since perished off the earth. But it was a busy place 
for a while, and, contrary to what its name might sug- 
gest, it aspired to be rather fast. It was a cock-fighting 
and whisky-drinking society into which Lincoln was 
launched. He managed to combine strict abstinence 
from liquor with keen participation in all its other diver- 
sions. One departure from total abstinence stands 
alleged among the feats of strength for which he became 
noted. He hoisted a whisky barrel, of unspecified but 
evidently considerable content, on to his knees in a squat- 
ting posture and drank from the bunghole. But this 
very arduous potation stood alone. Offutt was some time 
before he arrived with his goods, and Lincoln lived by 
odd jobs. At the very beginning one Mentor Graham, 
a schoolmaster officiating in some election, employed 
him as a clerk, and the clerk seized the occasion to make 



64 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

himself well known to New Salem as a story-teller. 
Then there was a heavy job at rail-splitting, and another 
job in navigating the Sangamon River. Offutt's store 
was at last set up, and for about a year the assistant 
in this important establishment had valuable opportuni- 
ties of conversation with all New Salem. He had also 
leisure for study. He had mentioned to the aforesaid 
Mentor Graham his " notion to study English gram- 
mar," and had been introduced to a work called " Kirk- 
ham's Grammar," which by a walk of some miles he 
could borrow from a neighbour. This he would read, 
lying full length on the counter with his head on a 
parcel of calico. At other odd times he would work 
away at arithmetic. Offutt's kindly interest procured 
him distinction in another field. At Clary's Grove, near 
New Salem, lived a formidable set of young ruffians, 
over whose somewhat disguised chivalry of temper the 
staid historian of Lincoln's youth becomes rapturous. 
They were given to wrecking the store of any New Salem 
tradesman who offended them; so it shows some spirit 
in Mr. Denton Offutt that he backed his Abraham 
Lincoln to beat their Jack Armstrong in a wrestling 
match. He did beat him; moreover, some charm in the 
way he bore himself made him thenceforth not hated 
but beloved of Clary's Grove in general, and the Arm- 
strongs in particular. Hannah Armstrong, Jack's wife, 
thereafter mended and patched his clothes for him, and, 
years later, he had the satisfaction, as their unfeed advo* 
cate, of securing the acquittal of their son from a 
charge of murder, of which there is some reason to 
hope he may not have been guilty. It is, by the way, 
a relief to tell that there once was a noted wrestling 
match in which Lincoln was beaten; it is characteristic 
of the country that his friends were sure there was foul 
play, and characteristic of him that he indignantly 
denied it. 

Within a year Offutt's store, in the phrase of the time, 
" petered out," leaving Lincoln shiftless. But the vic- 
tor of Clary's Grove, with his added mastery of " Kirk- 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 65 

ham's Grammar," was now ripe for public life. More- 
over, his experience as a waterman gave him ideas on 
the question, which then agitated his neighbours, whether 
the Sangamon River could be made navigable. He had 
a scheme of his own for doing this; and in the spring 
of 1832 he wrote to the local paper a boyish but mod- 
est and sensible statement of his views and ambitions, 
announcing that he would be a candidate in the autumn 
elections for the State Legislature. 

Meanwhile he had his one experience of soldiering. 
The Indian chief, Black Hawk, who had agreed to abide 
west of the Mississippi, broke the treaty and led his war- 
riors back into their former haunts in Northern Illinois. 
The Governor of the State called for volunteers, and 
Lincoln became one. He obtained the elective rank of 
captain of his company, and contrived to maintain some 
sort of order in that, doubtless brave, but undisciplined 
body. He saw no fighting, but he could earn his living 
for some months, and stored up material for effective 
chaff in Congress long afterwards about the military 
glory which General Cass's supporters for the Presi- 
dency wished to attach to their candidate. His most 
glorious exploit consisted in saving from his own men 
a poor old friendly Indian who had fallen among them. 
A letter of credentials, which the helpless creature pro- 
duced, was pronounced a forgery and he was about to 
be hanged as a spy, when Lincoln appeared on the scene, 
" swarthy with resolution and rage," and somehow ter- 
rified his disorderly company into dropping their prey. 

The war ended in time for a brief candidature, and 
a supporter of his at the time preserved a record of 
one of his speeches. His last important speech will 
hereafter be given in full for other reasons; this may 
be so given too, for it is not a hundred words long: 
" Fellow Citizens, I presume you all know who I am. 
I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited 
by many friends to become a candidate for the Legisla- 
ture. My politics are short and sweet like the old 
woman's dance. I am in favour of a national bank. I 



66 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

am in favour of the internal improvement system and 
a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments 
and political principles. If elected, I shall be thankful; 
if not, it will be all the same." 

To this succinct declaration of policy may be added 
from his earlier letter that he advocated a law against 
usury, and laws for the improvement of education. The 
principles of the speech are those which the new Whig 
party was upholding against the Democrats under Jack- 
son (the President) and Van Buren. Lincoln's neigh- 
bours, like the people of Illinois generally, were almost 
entirely on the side of the Democrats. It is interesting 
that however he came by his views, they were early and 
permanently fixed on the side then unpopular in Illinois; 
and it is interesting that though, naturally, not elected, 
he secured very nearly the whole of the votes of his 
immediate neighbourhood. 

The penniless Lincoln was now hankering to become 
a lawyer, though with some thoughts of the more 
practicable career of a blacksmith. Unexpectedly, how- 
ever, he was tempted into his one venture, singularly 
unsuccessful, in business. Two gentlemen named Hern- 
don, cousins of a biographer of Lincoln's, started a store 
in New Salem and got tired of it. One sold his share 
to a Mr. Berry, the other sold his to Lincoln. The lat- 
ter sale was entirely on credit — no money passed at the 
time, because there was no money. The vendor ex- 
plained afterwards that he relied solely on Lincoln's 
honesty. He had to wait a long while for full payment, 
but what is known of storekeeping in New Salem shows 
that he did very well for himself in getting out of his 
venture as he did. Messrs. Berry and Lincoln next 
acquired, likewise for credit, the stock and goodwill of 
two other storekeepers, one of them the victim of a 
raid from Clary's Grove. The senior partner then 
applied himself diligently to personal consumption of the 
firm's liquid goods; the junior member of the firm was 
devoted in part to intellectual and humorous converse 
with the male customers, but a fatal shyness prevented 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 67 

him from talking to the ladies. For the rest, he walked 
long distances to borrow books, got through Gibbon and 
through Rolling " History of the World," began his 
study of Blackstone, and acquired a settled habit of read- 
ing novels. So business languished. Early in 1833 
Berry and Lincoln sold out to another adventurer. This 
also was a credit transaction. The purchaser without 
avoidable delay failed and disappeared. Berry then 
died of drink, leaving to Lincoln the sole responsibility 
for the debts of the partnership. Lincoln could with no 
difficulty and not much reproach have freed himself by 
bankruptcy. As a matter of fact, he ultimately paid 
everything, but it took him about fifteen years of striv- 
ing and pinching himself. 

Lincoln is one of the many public characters to whom 
the standing epithet "honest" became attached; in his 
case the claim to this rested originally on the only con- 
clusive authority, that of his creditors. But there is 
equally good authority, that of his biographer, William 
Herndon, for many years his partner as a lawyer, that 
" he had no money sense." This must be understood 
with the large qualification that he meant to pay his way 
and, unlike the great statesmen of the eighteenth cen- 
tury in England, did pay it. But, though with much 
experience of poverty in his early career, he never devel- 
oped even a reasonable desire to be rich. Wealth re- 
mained in his view " a superfluity of the things one does 
not want." He was always interested in mathematics, 
but mainly as a discipline in thinking, and partly, per- 
haps, in association with mechanical problems of which 
he was fond enough to have once in his life patented 
an invention. The interest never led him to take to 
accounts or to long-sighted financial provisions. In later 
days, when he received a payment for his fees, his part- 
ner's share would be paid then and there; and perhaps 
the rent would be paid, and the balance would be 
spent at once in groceries and other goods likely to be 
soon wanted, including at long intervals, when the need 
was very urgent, a new hat. 



68 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

These are amiable personal traits, but they mark the 
limitations of his capacity as a statesman. The chief 
questions which agitated the Illinois Legislature were 
economic, and so at first were the issues between Whigs 
and Democrats in Federal policy. Lincoln, though he 
threw himself into these affairs with youthful fervour, 
would appear never to have had much grasp of such 
matters. " In this respect alone, " writes an admirer, 
v I have always considered Mr. Lincoln a weak man." 
It is only when (rarely, at first) constitutional or moral 
issues emerge that his politics become interesting. We 
can guess the causes which attached him to the Whigs. 
As the party out of power, and in Illinois quite out of 
favour, they had doubtless some advantage in character. 
As we have seen, the greatest minds among American 
statesmen of that day, Webster and Clay, were Whigs. 
Lincoln's simple and quite reasonable, if inconclusive, 
argument for Protection, can be found among his 
speeches of some years later. And schemes of internal 
development certainly fired his imagination. 

After his failure in business Lincoln subsisted for a 
while on odd jobs for farmers, but was soon employed 
as assistant surveyor by John Calhoun, then surveyor 
of the county. This gentleman, who had been educated 
as a lawyer but " taught school in preference," was a 
keen Democrat, and had to assure Lincoln that office as 
his assistant would not necessitate his desertion of his 
principles. He was a clever man, and Lincoln remem- 
bered him long after as the most formidable antagonist 
he ever met in debate. With the help, again, of Mentor 
Graham, Lincoln soon learned the surveyor's business. 
He continued at this work till he was able to start as a 
lawyer, and there is evidence that his surveys of prop- 
erty were done with extreme accuracy. Soon he further 
obtained the local Postmastership. This, the only posi- 
tion except the Presidency itself which he ever held in 
the Federal Government, was not onerous, for the mails 
were infrequent; he "carried the office around in his 
hat " ; we are glad to be told that " his administration 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 69 

gave satisfaction." Once calamity threatened him; a 
creditor distrained on the horse and the instruments 
necessary to his surveyorship ; but Lincoln was reputed 
to be a helpful fellow, and friends were ready to help 
him; they bought the horse and instruments back for 
him. To this time belongs his first acquaintance with 
some writers of unsettling tendency, Tom Paine, Vol- 
taire, and Volney, who was then recognised as one of 
the dangerous authors. Cock-fights, strange feats of 
strength, or of usefulness with axe or hammer or scythe, 
and a passion for mimicry continue. In 1834 he became 
a candidate again. " Can't the party raise any better 
material than that? " asked a bystander before a speech 
of his; after it, he exclaimed that the speaker knew more 
than all the other candidates put together. This time 
he was elected, being then twenty-five, and thereafter he 
was returned for three further terms of two years. 
Shortly before his second election in 1836 the State capi- 
tal was removed to Springfield, in his own county. There 
in 1837 Lincoln fixed his home. He had long been read- 
ing law in his curious, spasmodically concentrated way, 
and he had practised a little as a " pettifogger," that is, 
an unlicensed practitioner in the inferior courts. He 
had now obtained his license and was very shortly taken 
into partnership by an old friend in Springfield. 

2. In the Illinois Legislature. 

Here his youth may be said to end. Springfield was 
a different place from New Salem. There were carriages 
in it, and ladies who studied poetry and the fashions. 
There were families from Virginia and Kentucky who 
were conscious of ancestry, while graver, possibly more 
pushing, people from the North-eastern States, soon to 
outnumber them, were a little inclined to ridicule what 
they called their " illusory ascendency." There was a 
brisk competition of churches, and mutual improvement 
societies such as the " Young Men's Lyceum " had a 
rival claim to attention with races and cock-fights. 



70 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

And it was an altered Abraham Lincoln that came to 
inhabit Springfield. Arriving a day or two before his 
first law partnership was settled he came into the shop 
of a thriving young tradesman, Mr. Joshua Speed, to 
ask about the price of the cheapest bedding and other 
necessary articles. The sum for which Lincoln, who had 
not one cent, would have had to ask, and would have 
been readily allowed, credit, was only seventeen dollars. 
But this huge prospect of debt so visibly depressed him 
that Speed instantly proposed an arrangement which 
involved no money debt. He took him upstairs and in- 
stalled him — Western domestic arrangements were and 
are still simple — as the joint occupant of his own large 
bed. " Well, Speed, I'm moved," was the terse acknowl- 
edgment. Speed was to move him later by more pre- 
cious charity. We are concerned for the moment with 
what moved Speed. " I looked up at him," said he, 
long after, " and I thought then, as I think now, that 
I never saw so gloomy and melancholy a face in my 
life." The struggle of ambition and poverty may well 
have been telling on Lincoln; but besides that a tragical 
love story (shortly to be told) had left a deep and per- 
manent mark; but these influences worked, we may sup- 
pose, upon a disposition quite as prone to sadness as to 
mirth. His exceedingly gregarious habit, drawing him 
to almost any assembly of his own sex, continued all his 
life; but it alternated from the first with a habit of soli- 
tude or abstraction, the abstraction of a man who, when 
he does wish to read, will read intently in the midst of 
crowd or noise, or walking along the street. He was 
what might unkindly be called almost a professional 
humorist, the master of a thousand startling stories, de* 
lightful to the hearer, but possibly tiresome in written 
reminiscences, but we know too well that gifts of this 
kind are as compatible with sadness as they certainly are 
with deadly seriousness. 

The Legislature of Illinois in the eight years from 
1834 to 1842, in which Lincoln belonged to it, was, 
though not a wise, a vigorous body. In the conditions 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 71 

which then existed it was not likely to have been cap- 
tured as the Legislatures of wilder and more thinly- 
peopled States have sometimes been by a disreputable 
element in the community, nor to have subsided into the 
hands of the dull mechanical class of professional poli- 
ticians with which, rightly or wrongly, we have now been 
led to associate American State Government. The fact 
of Lincoln's own election suggests that dishonest adven- 
turers might easily have got there, but equally suggests 
that a very different type of men prevailed. " The 
Legislature," we are told, " contained the youth and 
blood and fire of the frontier." Among the Democrats 
in the Legislature was Stephen Douglas, who was to 
become one of the most powerful men in the United 
States while Lincoln was still unknown; and several of 
Lincoln's Whig colleagues were afterwards to play dis- 
tinguished or honourable parts in politics or war. We 
need not linger over them, but what we know of those 
with whom he had any special intimacy makes it 
entirely pleasant to associate him with them. After a 
short time in which, like any sensible young member of 
an assembly, he watched and hardly ever spoke, Lincoln 
soon made his way among these men, and in 1838 and 
1840 the Whig members — though, being in a minority, 
they could not elect him — gave him their unanimous 
votes for the Speakership of the Assembly. The busi- 
ness which engrossed the Legislature, at least up to 
1838, was the development of the natural resources of 
the State. These were great. It was natural that rail- 
ways, canals and other public works to develop them 
should be pushed forward at the public cost. Other new 
countries since, with less excuse because with greater 
warning from experience, have plunged in this matter, 
and, though the Governor protested, the Illinois Legis- 
lature, Whigs and Democrats, Lincoln and every one 
else, plunged gaily, so that, during the collapse which 
followed, Illinois, though, like Lincoln himself, it paid 
its debts in the end, was driven in 1840 to suspend inter- 
est payments for several years. 



72 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Very little is recorded of Lincoln's legislative doings. 
What is related chiefly exhibits his delight in the game 
of negotiation and combination by which he and the 
other members for his county, together known as " the 
Long Nine," advanced the particular projects which 
pleased their constituents or struck their own fancy. 
Thus he early had a hand in the removal of the capital 
from Vandalia to Springfield in his own county. The 
map of Illinois suggests that Springfield was a better 
site for the purpose than Vandalia and at least as good 
as Jacksonville or Peoria or any of its other competitors. 
Of his few recorded speeches one concerns a proposed 
inquiry into some alleged impropriety in the allotment 
of shares in the State Bank. It is certainly the speech 
of a bold man; it argues with remarkable directness that 
whereas a committee of prominent citizens which had 
already inquired into this matter consisted of men of 
known honesty, the proposed committee of the Legis- 
lators, whom he was addressing, would consist of men 
who, for all he knew, might be honest, and, for all he 
knew, might not. 

The Federal politics of this time, though Lincoln 
played an active local part in the campaigns of the Whig 
party, concern us little. The Whigs, to whom he did 
subordinate service, were, as has been said, an unlucky 
party. In 1840, in the reaction which extreme commer- 
cial depression created against the previously omnipotent 
Democrats, the Whig candidate for the Presidency was 
successful. This was General Harrison, a respected sol- 
dier of the last war, who was glorified as a sort of 
Cincinnatus and elected after an outburst of enthusiastic 
tomfoolery such as never before or since rejoiced the 
American people. But President Harrison had hardly 
been in office a month when he died. Some say he was 
worried to death by office seekers, but a more prosaic 
cause, pneumonia, can also be alleged. It is satisfactory 
that this good man's grandson worthily filled his office 
forty-eight years after, but his immediate successor was 
of course the Vice-President, Tyler, chosen as an influen- 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 73 

tial opponent of the last Democrat Presidents, but not 
because he agreed with the Whigs. Cultivated but 
narrow-minded, highly independent and wholly perverse, 
he satisfied no aspiration of the Whigs and paved the 
way effectually for the Democrat who succeeded him. 

Throughout these years Lincoln was of course work- 
ing at law, which became, with the development of the 
country, a more arduous and a more learned profession. 
Sessions of the Legislature did not last long, and political 
canvasses were only occasional. If Lincoln was active 
in these matters he was in many other directions, too, 
a keen participator in the keen life of the society round 
him. Nevertheless politics as such, and apart from any 
large purpose to be achieved through them, had for 
many years a special fascination for him. For one 
thing he was argumentative in the best sense, with a pas- 
sion for what the Greeks sometimes called "dialectic"; 
his rare capacity for solitary thought, the most marked 
and the greatest of his powers, went absolutely hand in 
hand with the desire to reduce his thoughts to a form 
which would carry logical conviction to others. Further, 
there can be no doubt — and such a combination of 
tastes, though it seems to be uncommon, is quite intel- 
ligible — that the somewhat unholy business of party 
management was at first attractive to him. To the end 
he showed no intuitive comprehension of individual men. 
His sincere friendly intention, the unanswerable force 
of an argument, the convincing analogy veiled in an 
unseemly story, must take their chance of suiting the par- 
ticular taste of Senator Sherman or General McClellan; 
but any question of managing men in the mass — will a 
given candidate's influence with this section of people 
count for more than his unpopularity with that section? 
and so on — involved an element of subtle and long- 
sighted calculation which was vastly congenial to him. 
We are to see him hereafter applying this sort of science 
on a grand scale and for a great end. His early disci- 
pline in it is a dull subject, interesting only where it 
displays, as it sometimes does, the perfect fairness with 



7i4 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

which this ambitious man could treat his own claims as 
against those of a colleague and competitor. 

In forming any judgment of Lincoln's career it must, 
further, be realised that, while he was growing up as a 
statesman, the prevailing conception of popular govern- 
ment was all the time becoming more unfavourable to 
leadership and to robust individuality. The new party 
machinery adopted by the Democrats under Jackson, as 
the proper mode of securing government by the people, 
induced a deadly uniformity of utterance ; breach of that 
uniformity was not only rash, but improper. Once in 
early days it was demanded in a newspaper that " all 
candidates should show their hands." " Agreed," writes 
Lincoln, " here's mine " ; and then follows a young man's 
avowal of advanced opinions ; he would give the suffrage 
to " all whites who pay taxes or bear arms, by no means 
excluding females." Disraeli, who was Lincoln's con- 
temporary, throve by exuberances quite as startling as 
this, nor has any English politician found it damaging 
to be bold. On this occasion indeed (in 1836) Lincoln 
was far from damaging himself; the Whigs had not till 
a few years later been induced, for self-preservation, to 
copy the Democratic machine. But it is striking that the 
admiring friend who reports this declaration, " too 
audacious and emphatic for the statesmen of a later 
day," must carefully explain how it could possibly suit 
the temper of a time which in a few years passed away. 
Very soon the question whether a proposal or even a 
sentiment was timely or premature came to bulk too 
large in the deliberations of Lincoln's friends. The 
reader will perhaps wonder later whether such consid- 
erations did not bulk too largely in Lincoln's own mind. 
Was there in his statesmanship, even in later days when 
he had great work to do, an element of that opportunism 
which, if not actually base, is at least cheap? Or did 
he come as near as a man with many human weaknesses 
could come to the wise and nobly calculated opportunism 
which is not merely the most beneficent statesmanship, 
but demands a heroic self-mastery? 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 75 

The main interest of his doings in Illinois politics and 
in Congress is the help they may give in penetrating his 
later mind. On the one hand, it is certain that Lincoln 
trained himself to be a great student of the fitting oppor- 
tunity. He evidently paid very serious attention to the 
counsels of friends who would check his rasher impulses. 
One of his closest associates insists that his impulsive 
judgment was bad, and he probably thought so himself. 
It will be seen later that the most momentous utterance 
he ever made was kept back through the whole space 
of two years of crisis at the instance of timid friends. 
It required not less courage and was certainly more 
effective when at last it did come out. The same great 
capacity for waiting marks any steps that he took for 
his own advancement. Indeed it was a happy thing for 
him and for his country that his character and the whole 
cast of his ideas and sympathies were of a kind to which 
the restraint imposed on an American politician was 
most congenial and to which therefore it could do least 
harm. He was to prove himself a patient man in other 
ways as well as this. On many things, perhaps on most, 
the thoughts he worked out in his own mind diverged 
very widely from those of his neighbours, but he was 
not in the least anxious either to conceal or to obtrude 
them. His social philosophy as he expressed it to his 
friends in these days was one which contemplated great 
future reforms — abolition of slavery and a strict tem- 
perance policy were among them. But he looked for 
them with a sort of fatalistic confidence in the ultimate 
victory of reason, and saw no use and a good deal of 
harm in premature political agitation for them. "All 
such questions, " he is reported to have said, "must find 
lodgment with the most enlightened souls who stamp 
them with their approval. In God's own time they will 
be organised into law and thus woven into the fabric of 
our institutions." This seems a little cold-blooded, but 
perhaps we can already begin to recognise the man who, 
when the time had fully come, would be on the right 
side, and in whom the evil which he had deeply 



76 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

but restrainedly hated would find an appallingly wary 
foe. 

But there were crucial instances which test sufficiently 
whether this wary politician was a true man or not. The 
soil of Illinois was free soil by the Ordinance of 1787, 
and Congress would only admit it to the Union as a 
free State. But it had been largely peopled from the 
South. There had been much agitation against this 
restriction; prevailing sentiment to a late date strongly 
approved of slavery; it was at Alton in Illinois that, in 
1836, Elijah Lovejoy, an Abolitionist publisher, had 
been martyred by the mob which had failed to intimidate 
him. In 1837, when the bold agitation of the Aboli- 
tionists was exciting much disapproval, the Illinois 
Legislature passed resolutions condemning that agitation 
and declaring in soothing tones the constitutional pow- 
erlessness of Congress to interfere with slavery in the 
Southern States. Now Lincoln himself — whether fof 
good reasons or bad must be considered later — thor- 
oughly disapproved of the actual agitation of the Aboli- 
tionists; and the resolutions in question, but for one 
merely theoretical point of law and for an unctuous 
misuse of the adjective " sacred," contained nothing 
which he could not literally have accepted. The objec- 
tion to them lay in the motive which made it worth 
while to pass them. Lincoln drew up and placed on the 
records of the House a protest against these resolutions. 
He defines in it his own quite conservative opinions; he 
deprecates the promulgation of Abolition doctrines; but 
he does so because it " tends rather to increase than 
abate the evils " of slavery; and he lays down " that the 
institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and 
bad policy." One man alone could he induce to sign 
this protest with him, and that man was not seeking 
re-election. 

By 1842 Lincoln had grown sensibly older, and a little 
less ready, we may take it, to provoke unnecessary 
antagonism. Probably very old members of Free 
Churches are the people best able to appreciate the 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 77 

daring of the following utterance. Speaking on Wash- 
ington's birthday in a Presbyterian church to a tem- 
perance society formed among the rougher people of the 
town and including former drunkards who desired to 
reform themselves, he broke out in protest against the 
doctrine that respectable persons should shun the com- 
pany of people tempted to intemperance. " If," he said, 
" they believe as they profess that Omnipotence con- 
descended to take upon Himself the form of sinful man, 
and as such die an ignominious death, surely they will 
not refuse submission to the infinitely lesser condescen- 
sion, for the temporal and perhaps eternal salvation of 
a large, erring, and unfortunate class of their fellow 
creatures ! Nor is the condescension very great. In my 
judgment such of us as have never fallen victims have 
been spared more from the absence of appetite than 
from any mental or moral superiority over those who 
have. Indeed, I believe, if we take habitual drunkards 
as a class, that their heads and their hearts will bear an 
advantageous comparison with those of any other class." 
It proved, at a later day, very lucky for America that 
the virtuous Lincoln, who did not drink strong drink — 
nor, it is sad to say, smoke, nor, which is all to the good, 
chew — did feel like that about drunkenness. But there 
was great and loud wrath. " It's a shame," said one, 
;< that he should be permitted to abuse us so in the house 
of the Lord." It is certain that in this sort of way he 
did himself a good deal of injury as an aspiring poli- 
tician. It is also the fact that he continued none the 
less persistently in a missionary work conceived in a 
spirit none the less Christian because it shocked many 
pious people. 

3. Marriage. 

The private life of Lincoln continued, and for many 
years increasingly, to be equally marked by indiscriminate 
sociability and brooding loneliness. Comfort and the 
rarious influences which may be associated with the old- 



78 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

fashioned American word " elegance " seem never to 
enter into it. What is more, little can be discerned of 
positive happiness in the background of his life, as the 
freakish elasticity of his youth disappeared and, after a 
certain measure of marked success, the further objects 
of his ambition though not dropped became unlikely of 
attainment and seemed, we may guess, of doubtful value. 
All along he was being moulded for endurance rather 
than for enjoyment 

Nor, though his children evidently brought him hap- 
piness, does what we know of his domesticities and 
dearest affections weaken this general impression. When 
he married he had gone through a saddening experience. 
He started on manhood with a sound and chivalrous out- 
look on women in general, and a nervous terror of actual 
women when he met them. In New Salem days he 
absented himself from meals for the whole time that 
some ladies were staying at his boarding house. His 
clothes and his lack of upbringing must have weighed 
with him, besides his natural disposition. None the less, 
of course he fell in love. Miss Ann Rutledge, the 
daughter of a store and tavern keeper from Kentucky 
with whom Lincoln was boarding in 1833, has been 
described as of exquisite beauty; some say this is over- 
stated, but speak strongly of her grace and charm. A 
lady who knew her gives these curiously collocated par- 
ticulars : " Miss Rutledge had auburn hair, blue eyes, 
fair complexion. She was pretty, slightly slender, but in 
everything a good-hearted young woman. She was 
about five feet two inches high, and weighed in the neigh- 
bourhood of a hundred and twenty pounds. She was 
beloved by all who knew her. She died as it were of 
grief. In speaking of her death and her grave Lincoln 
once said to me,. * My heart lies buried there.' " The 
poor girl, when Lincoln first came courting to her, had 
passed through a grievous agitation. She had been 
engaged to a young man, who suddenly returned to his 
home in the Eastern States, after revealing to her, with 
some explanation which was more convincing to her than 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 79 

to her friends, that he had been passing under an 
assumed name. It seems that his absence was strangely 
prolonged, that for a long time she did not hear from 
him, that his letters when they did come puzzled her, 
that she clung to him long, but yielded at last to her 
friends, who urged their very natural suspicions upon 
her. It is further suggested that there was some good 
explanation of his conduct all the while, and that she 
learnt this too late when actually engaged to Lincoln. 
However that may be, shortly after her engagement to 
Lincoln she fell seriously ill, insisted, as she lay ill, on 
a long interview with Lincoln alone, and a day or two 
later died. This was in 1835, when he was twenty-six. 
It is perhaps right to say that one biographer throws 
doubt on the significance of this story in Lincoln's life. 
The details as to Ann Rutledge's earlier lover are vague 
and uncertain. The main facts of Lincoln's first engage- 
ment and almost immediate loss of his betrothed are 
quite certain; the blow would have been staggering 
enough to any ordinary young lover and we know noth- 
ing of Lincoln which would discredit Mr. Herndon's 
judgment that its effect on him was both acute and per- 
manent. There can be no real doubt that his spells of 
melancholy were ever afterwards more intense, and 
politer biographers should not have suppressed the testi- 
mony that for a time that melancholy seemed to his 
friends to verge upon insanity. He always found good 
friends, and, as was to happen again later, one of them, 
Mr. Bowline Greene, carried him off to his own secluded 
home and watched him carefully. He said " the thought 
that the snows and rains fell upon her grave filled him 
with indescribable grief." Two years later he told a 
fellow-legislator that " although he seemed to others to 
enjoy life rapturously, yet when alone he was so over- 
come by mental depression, he never dared to carry a 
pocket-knife." Later still Greene, who had helped him, 
died, and Lincoln was to speak over his grave. For 
once in his life he broke down entirely; " the tears ran 
down his yellow and shrivelled cheeks. 4 . . After re- 



80 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

peated efforts he found it impossible to speak and strode 
away sobbing." 

The man whom a grief of this kind has affected not 
only intensely, but morbidly, is almost sure, before its 
influence has faded, to make love again, and is very 
likely to do so foolishly. Miss Mary Owens was slightly 
older than Lincoln. She was a handsome woman; com- 
manding, but comfortable. In the tales of Lincoln's love 
stories, much else is doubtfully related, but the lady's 
weight is in each case stated with assurance, and when 
she visited her sister in New Salem in 1836 Mary Owens 
weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. There is noth- 
ing sad in her story; she was before long happily mar- 
ried — not to Lincoln — and she long outlived him. But 
Lincoln, who had seen her on a previous visit and 
partly remembered her, had been asked, perhaps in jest, 
by her sister to marry her if she returned, and had 
rashly announced half in jest that he would. Her sister 
promptly fetched her, and he lingered for some time in 
a half-engaged condition, writing her reasonable, con- 
scientious, feeble letters, in which he put before her dis- 
passionately the question whether she could patiently 
bear " to see without sharing ... a lot of flourishing 
about in carriages, ... to be poor without the means 
of hiding your poverty," and assuring her that " I 
should be much happier with you than the way I am, 
provided I saw no signs of discontent in you." Whether 
he rather wished to marry her but felt bound to hold 
her free, or distinctly wished not to marry her but felt 
bound not to hold himself free, he probably was never 
sure. The lady very wisely decided that he could not 
make her happy, and returned to Kentucky. She said 
he was deficient in the little courteous attentions which 
a woman's happiness requires of her husband. She gave 
instances long after to prove her point; but she always 
spoke of him with friendship and respect as " a man 
with a heart full of human kindness and a head full of 
common sense." 

Rather unluckily, Lincoln, upon his rejection or re- 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 81 

lease, relieved his feelings in a letter about Miss Owens 
to one of the somewhat older married ladies who were 
kind to him, the wife of one of his colleagues. She 
ought to have burnt his letter, but she preserved it to 
kindle mild gossip after his death. It is a burlesque 
account of his whole adventure, describing, with touches 
of very bad taste, his disillusionment with the now 
maturer charms of Miss Owens when her sister brought 
her back to New Salem, and making comedy of his own 
honest bewilderment and his mingled relief and mortifi- 
cation when she at last refused him. We may take it 
as evidence of the natural want of perception and right 
instinctive judgment in minor matters which some who 
knew and loved him attribute to him. But, besides that, 
the man who found relief in this ill-conceived exercise 
of humour was one in whom the prospect of marriage 
caused some strange and pitiful perturbation of mind. 

This was in 1838, and a year later Mary Todd came 
from Kentucky to stay at Springfield with her brother- 
in-law Ninian Edwards, a legislator of Illinois and a 
close ally of Lincoln's. She was aged twenty-one, and 
her weight was one hundred and thirty pounds. She was 
well educated, and had family connections which were 
highly esteemed. She was pleasant in company, but 
somewhat imperious, and she was a vivacious talker. 
When among the young men who now became attentive 
in calling on the Edwards's Lincoln came and sat awk- 
wardly gazing on Miss Todd, Mrs. Edwards appears to 
have remarked that the two were not suited to each 
other. But an engagement took place all the same. 
As to the details of what followed, whether he or she 
was the first to have doubts, and whether, as some say, 
the great Stephen Douglas appeared on the scene as a 
rival and withdrew rather generously but too late, is 
uncertain. But Lincoln composed a letter to break off 
his engagement. He showed it to Joshua Speed, who 
told him that if he had the courage of a man he would 
not write to her, but see her and speak. He did so. 
She cried. He kissed and tried to comfort her. After 



82 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

this Speed had to point out to him that he had really 
renewed his engagement. Again there may be some un- 
certainty whether on January I, 1841, the bridal party 
had actually assembled and the bridegroom after long 
search was found by his friends wandering about in a 
state which made them watch day and night and keep 
knives from him. But it is quite certain from his letters 
that in some such way on " the fatal 1st of January, 
1 841," he broke down terribly. Some weeks later he 
wrote to his partner : " Whether I shall ever be better 
I cannot tell ; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain 
as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, as it 
appears to me." After a while Speed was able to 
remove him to his own parents' home in Kentucky, 
where he and his mother nursed him back to mental 
life. 

Then in the course of 1841 Speed himself began to 
contemplate marriage, and Speed himself had painful 
searchings of heart, and Lincoln's turn came to show a 
sureness of perception in his friend's case that he wholly 
lacked in his own. " I know," he writes, " what the 
painful point with you is ... it is an apprehension that 
you do not love her as you should. What nonsense ! 
How came you to court her? But you say you reasoned 
yourself into it. What do you mean by that? Was it 
not that you found yourself unable to reason yourself 
out of it? Did you not think, and partly form the pur- 
pose, of courting her the first time you ever saw or heard 
of her? What had reason to do with it at that early 
stage ? " A little later the lady of Speed's love falls 
ill. Lincoln writes : " I hope and believe that your pres- 
ent anxiety about her health and her life must and will 
for ever banish those horrid doubts which I know you 
sometimes felt as to the truth of your affection for her. 
. . . Perhaps this point is no longer a question with 
you, and my pertinacious dwelling upon it is a rude intru- 
sion upon your feelings. If so, you must pardon me. 
You know the hell I have suffered upon that point, and 
how tender I am upon it." When he writes thus it is 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 83 

no surprise to hear from him that he has lost his 
hypochondria, but it may be that the keen recollection of 
it gives him excessive anxieties for Speed. On the eve 
of the wedding he writes: "You will always hereafter 
be on ground that I have never occupied, and conse- 
quently, if advice were needed, I might advise wrong. 
I do fondly hope, however, that you will never need 
comfort from abroad. I incline to think it probable that 
your nerves will occasionally fail you for a while; but 
once you get them firmly graded now, that trouble is 
over for ever. If you went through the ceremony 
calmly or even with sufficient composure not to excite 
alarm in any present, you are safe beyond question, and 
in two or three months, to say the most, will be the 
happiest of men." Soon he is reassured and can " feel 
somewhat jealous of both of you now. You will be so 
exclusively concerned with one another that I shall be 
forgotten entirely. I shall feel very lonesome without 
you." And a little later : " It cannot be told how it 
thrills me with joy to hear you say you are far happier 
than you ever expected to be. I know you too well to 
suppose your expectations were not at least sometimes 
extravagant, and if the reality exceeds them all, I say, 
' Enough, dear Lord.* " And here follows what might 
perhaps have been foreseen : " Your last letter gave me 
more pleasure than the total sum of all that I have re- 
ceived since the fatal 1st of January, 1841. Since then 
it seems to me I should have been entirely happy but 
for the never absent idea that there is still one unhappy 
whom I have contributed to make so. That kills my 
soul. I cannot but reproach myself for even wishing to 
be happy while she is otherwise." Very significantly he 
has inquired of friends how that one enjoyed a trip on 
the new railway cars to Jacksonville, and — not being 
like Falkland in " The Rivals " — praises God that she 
has enjoyed it exceedingly. 

This was in the spring of 1842. Some three months 
later he writes again to Speed: "I must gain confidence 
in my own ability to keep my resolves when they are 



84 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

made. In that ability I once prided myself as the only 
chief gem of my character. That gem I lost how and 
where you know too well. I have not regained it, and 
until I do I cannot trust myself in any matter of much 
importance. I believe now that, had you understood 
my case at the time as well as I understood yours after- 
wards, by the aid you would have given me I should 
have sailed through clear. ... I always was super- 
stitious. I believe God made me one of the instruments 
of bringing Fanny and you together, which union I have 
no doubt He had fore-ordained. Whatever He designs 
for me He will do. ' Stand still and see the salvation 
of the Lord/ is my text just now. If, as you say, you 
have told Fanny all, I should have no objection to her 
seeing this letter. I do not think I can come to Ken- 
tucky this season. I am so poor and make so little head- 
way in the world that I drop back in a month of idle- 
ness as much as I gain in a year's sowing." At last in 
the autumn of that year Lincoln addresses to Speed a 
question at once so shrewd and so daringly intimate as 
perhaps no other man ever asked of his friend. " The 
immense sufferings you endured from the first days of 
September till the middle of February" (the date of 
Speed's wedding) " you never tried to conceal from me v 
and I well understood. You have now been the hus- 
band of a lovely woman nearly eight months. That you 
are happier now than the day you married her I well 
know. . . . But I want to ask a close question ! * Are 
you in feeling as well as in judgment glad you are mar- 
ried as you are ? ' From anybody but me this would be 
an impudent question, not to be tolerated, but I know 
you will pardon it in me. Please answer it quickly, as 
I am impatient to know." 

Speed remained in Kentucky; Lincoln was too poor 
for visits of pleasure; and Speed was not a man who 
cared for political life; but the memorials, from which 
the above quotations have been taken, of Lincoln's last- 
ing friendship with Speed and his kind mother, who 
gave Lincoln a treasured Bible, and his kind young wife, 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 85 

who made her husband's friend her own, and whose 
violet, dropped into her husband's letter to him just as 
he was sealing it, was among the few flowers that 
Lincoln ever appreciated, throw the clearest light that 
we can anywhere obtain on the inner mind of Lincoln. 

As may have been foreseen, Mary Todd and he had 
met again on a friendly footing. A managing lady is 
credited with having brought about a meeting between 
them, but evidently she did not do it till Lincoln was 
at least getting desirous to be managed. He was much 
absorbed at this time in law business, to which since his 
breakdown he had applied himself more seriously. It 
was at this period too that his notable address on tem- 
perance was given. Soon after his meetings with Miss 
Todd began again he involved himself in a complica- 
tion of a different kind. He had written, partly, it 
seems, for the young lady's amusement, some innocent 
if uninteresting political skits relating to some question 
about taxes. This brought on him an unexpected chal- 
lenge from a fiery but diminutive revenue official, one 
Colonel Shields, a prominent Democratic politician. 
Lincoln availed himself of the right of the challenged 
to impose ridiculous conditions of combat, partly no 
doubt in fun, but with the sensible object also of making 
sure that he could disarm his antagonist with no risk 
of harm to the little man. The tangled controversy 
which ensued as to how and by whose fault the duel 
eventually fell through has nothing in it now, but the 
whole undignified business seems to have given Lincoln 
lasting chagrin, and worried him greatly at a time when 
it would have been well that he should be cheerful. 
At last on November 4, 1842, when Lincoln was nearly 
thirty-three, he was safely married. The wedding, held, 
according to the prevailing custom, in a private house, 
was an important function, for it was the first Episco- 
palian wedding that good society in Springfield had wit- 
nessed. Malicious fortune brought in a ludicrous inci- 
dent at the last moment, for when in the lawyerlike 
verbiage of the then American Prayer-Book the bride- 



86 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

groom said, u With this ring I thee endow with all my 
goods, chattels, lands and tenements," old Judge Brown 
of the Illinois Supreme Court, who had never heard the 
like, impatiently broke in, " God Almighty, Lincoln ! 
The statute fixes all that." 

There is more than the conventional reason for 
apology for pressing the subject a little further. Noth- 
ing very illuminating can be said as to the course of 
Lincoln's married life, but much has already been made 
public about it which, though it cannot be taken as reach- 
ing to the heart of the matter, is not properly to be dis- 
missed as mere gossip. Mrs. Lincoln, it is clear, had a 
high temper — the fact that, poor woman ! after her hus- 
band had been murdered by her side, she developed 
clear symptoms of insanity, may or may not, for all we 
are entitled to know, be relevant in this regard. She 
was much younger than her husband, and had gone 
through a cruel experience for him. Moreover, she had 
proper ambitions and was accustomed to proper conven- 
tional refinements; so her husband's exterior roughness 
tried her sorely, not the less we may be sure because of 
her real pride in him. Wife and tailor combined could 
not, with any amount of money, have dressed him well. 
Once, though they kept a servant then, Lincoln thought 
it friendly to open the door himself in his shirt sleeves 
when two most elegant ladies came to call. On such 
occasions, and doubtless on other occasions of less 
provocation, Mrs. Lincoln's high temper was let loose. 
It seems pretty certain, too, that he met her with mere 
forbearance, sad patience, and avoidance of conflict. 
His fellow lawyers came to notice that he stayed away 
from home on circuit when all the rest of them could 
go home for a day or two. Fifteen years after his 
wedding he himself confessed to his trouble, not dis- 
loyally, but in a rather moving remonstrance with some 
one who had felt intolerably provoked by Mrs. Lincoln. 
There are slight indications that occasions of difficulty 
and pain to Lincoln happened up to the end of his life. 
On the other hand, there are slight indications that com- 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 87 

mon love for their children helped to make the two 
happier, and there are no indications at all of any ap- 
proach to a serious quarrel. All that is told us may 
be perfectly true and not by any means have justified 
the pity that some of Lincoln's friends were ready to 
feel for him. It is difficult to avoid suspecting that 
Lincoln's wife did not duly like his partner and biog- 
rapher, Mr. Herndon, who felt it his duty to record 
so many painful facts and his own possibly too painful 
impression from them. On the other side, Mr. Herndon 
makes it clear that in some respects Mrs. Lincoln was 
an admirable wife for her husband. She faced the diffi- 
culties of their poverty with spirit and resolution. Testi- 
mony from other sources to her graceful hospitality 
abounds. More than this, from the very first she 
believed in his powers. It seems she had the discern- 
ment to know, when few others can have done so, how 
far greater he was than his rival Douglas. It was 
Herndon's belief, in days when he and Mrs. Lincoln 
were the two persons who saw most of him, that she 
sustained his just ambition, and that at the most critical 
moment of his personal career she had the courage to 
make him refuse an attractive appointment which must 
have ruined it. The worst that we are told with any 
certainty amounts to this, that like the very happily mar- 
ried writer of " Virginibus Puerisque," Lincoln discov- 
ered that marriage is " a field of battle and not a bed 
of roses " — a battle in which we are forced to suspect 
that he did not play his full part. 

We should perhaps be right in associating his curious 
record, of right and high regard for women and ineffi- 
ciency where a particular woman's happiness depended 
on him, with the belief in Woman Suffrage, which he 
early adopted and probably retained. Be that as it may, 
this part of his story points to something which runs 
through his whole character, something which perhaps 
may be expressed by saying that the natural bias of his 
qualities was towards the negative side. We hear, no 
doubt, of occasions when his vigour was instant and ter- 



88 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

rible — like that of Hamlet on the ship for England; but 
these were occasions when the right or the necessity of 
the case was obvious. We have seen him also firm and 
absolutely independent where his conviction had already 
been thought out. Where there was room for further 
reflection, for patiently waiting on events, or for taking 
counsel of wise friends, manly decision had not come 
easily to him. He had let a third person almost engage 
him to Miss Owens. Once in this relation to her, he 
had let it be the woman's part and not the man's to 
have decision enough for the two. Speed had to tell 
him that he must face Miss Todd and speak to her, and 
Speed again had to make clear to him what the effect of 
his speaking had been. In time he decided what he 
thought his own feelings were, but it was by inference 
from the feelings of Speed. Lastly, it seems, the trou- 
bles of his married life were met by mere patience and 
avoidance. All this, of course, concerned a side of life's 
affairs in regard to which his mind had suffered painful 
shocks; but it shows the direction of his possible weak- 
ness and his possible strength in other things. It falls 
in with a trait which he himself noted in one of the 
letters to Speed: "I have no doubt," he writes, " it is 
the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream 
dreams of Elysium far exceeding all that anything earthly 
can realise." All such men have to go through deep 
waters; but they do not necessarily miss either success 
or happiness in the end. Lincoln's life may be said to 
have tested him by the test which Mr. Kipling states 
in his lines about Washington : — 

" If you can dream — and not make dreams your master ; 
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim." 

He was to prove that he could do this ; it is for the fol- 
lowing pages to show in how high a degree. Meanwhile 
one thing should already be clear about him. No shrewd 
judge of men could read his letters to Speed with care 
and not feel that, whatever mistakes this man might com- 



LINCOLN'S EARLY CAREER 89 

mit, fundamentally he was worthy of entire trust. That, 
as a matter of fact, is what, to the end of his life, Speed 
and all the men who knew him and an ever widening 
circle of men who had to judge by more casual impres- 
sions did feel about Lincoln. Whatever was question- 
able in his private or public acts, his own explanation, if 
he happened to give one, would be taken by them as 
the full and naked truth, and, if there was no known 
explanation, it remained to them an irrebuttable pre- 
sumption that his main intention was right. 



CHAPTER IV 

LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND IN RETIREMENT 

I. The Mexican War and Lincoln* s Work in Congress. 

Lincoln had ceased before his marriage to sit in the 
Illinois Legislature. He had won sufficient standing for 
his ambition to aim higher; a former law partner of 
his was now in Congress, and he wished to follow. But 
he had to submit to a few years' delay of which the 
story is curious and honourable. His rivals for the 
representation of his own constituency were two fellow 
Whigs, Baker and Hardin, both of whom afterwards 
bore distinguished parts in the Mexican war and with 
both of whom he was friendly. Somewhat to his dis- 
gust at a party gathering in his own county in 1843, 
Baker was preferred to him. A letter of his gives a 
shrewd account of the manoeuvres among members of 
various Churches which brought this about; it is curi- 
ously careful not to overstate the effect of these influ- 
ences and characteristically denies that Baker had part 
in them. To make the thing harder, he was sent from 
this meeting to a convention, for the whole constituency, 
with which the nomination lay, and his duty, of course, 
was to work for Baker. Here it became obvious that 
Hardin would be chosen; nothing could be done for 
Baker at that time, but Lincoln, being against his will 
there in Baker's interests, took an opportunity in the 
bargaining that took place to advance Baker's claim, to 
the detriment of his own, to be Hardin's successor two 
years later. 

By some perverse accident notes about details of 
party management fill a disproportionate space among 
those letters of Lincoln's which have been preserved, 
but these reveal that, with all his business-like attention 

90 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 91 

to the affairs of his very proper ambition, he was able 
throughout to illuminate dull matters of this order with 
action of singular disinterestedness. After being a sec- 
ond time postponed, no doubt to the advantage of his 
law business, he took his seat in the House of Repre- 
sentatives at Washington for two years in the spring of 
1847. Two short sessions can hardly suffice for mas- 
tering the very complicated business of that body. He 
made hardly any mark. He probably learned much and 
was able to study at leisure the characters of his brother 
politicians. He earned the valuable esteem of some, and 
seems to have passed as a very pleasant, honest, plain 
specimen of the rough West. Like others of the younger 
Congressmen, he had the privilege of breakfasting with 
Webster. His brief career in the House seems to have 
disappointed him, and it certainly dissatisfied his con- 
stituents. The part that he played may impress us more 
favourably than it did them, but, slight as it was, it 
requires a historical explanation. 

Mexico had detached itself from Spain in 1826, and 
in 1833 tne province of Texas detached itself from 
Mexico. Texas was largely peopled by immigrants from 
the States, and these had grievances. One of them was 
that Mexico abolished slavery, but there was real mis- 
government as well, and, among other cruel incidents of 
the rebellion which followed, the massacre of rebels at 
the Alamo stamped itself on American memory. The 
Republic of Texas began to seek annexation to the 
United States in 1839, Dut there was opposition in the 
States and there were difficulties with Mexico and other 
Governments. At last in 1845, at tne vei 7 close of his 
term of office, President Tyler got the annexation pushed 
through in defiance of the Whigs who made him Presi- 
dent. Mexico broke off diplomatic relations, but peace 
could no doubt have been preserved if peace had been 
any object with the new President Polk or with the 
Southern leaders whose views he represented. They had 
set their eyes upon a further acquisition, larger even than 
Texas — California, and the whole of the territories, still 



92 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

belonging to Mexico, to the east of it. It is not con- 
tested, and would not have been contested then, that the 
motive of their policy was the Southern desire to win 
further soil for cultivation by slaves. But there was no 
great difficulty in gaining some popularity for their 
designs in the North. Talk about " our manifest des- 
tiny " to reach the Pacific may have been justly described 
by Parson Wilbur as " half on it ign'ance and t'other 
half rum," but it is easy to see how readily it might be 
taken up, and indeed many Northerners at that moment 
had a fancy of their own for expansion in the North- 
West and were not over-well pleased with Polk when, 
in 1846, he set the final seal upon the settlement with 
Great Britain of the Oregon frontier. 

When he did this Polk had already brought about 
his own war. The judgment on that war expressed 
at the time in the first " Biglow Papers " has seldom 
been questioned since, and there seldom can have been 
a war so sternly condemned by soldiers — Grant amongst 
others — who fought in it gallantly. The facts seem to 
have been just as Lincoln afterwards recited them in 
Congress. The Rio Grande, which looks a reasonable 
frontier on a map, was claimed by the United States 
as the frontier of Texas. The territory occupied by 
the American settlers of Texas reached admittedly up 
to and beyond the River Nueces, east of the Rio 
Grande. But in a sparsely settled country, where water 
is not abundant, the actual border line, if there be any 
clear line, between settlement from one side and settle- 
ment from the other will not for the convenience of 
treaty-makers run along a river, but rather for the con- 
venience of the settlers along the water-parting between 
two rivers. So Mexico claimed both banks of the Rio 
Grande and Spanish settlers inhabited both sides. Polk 
ordered General Zachary Taylor, who was allowed no 
discretion in the matter, to march troops right up to the 
Rio Grande and occupy a position commanding the 
encampment of the Mexican soldiers there. The Mexi- 
can commander, thus threatened, attacked. The Mex- 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 9 3 

leans had thus begun the war. Polk could thus allege 
his duty to prosecute it. When the whole transaction 
was afterwards assailed his critics might be tempted to 
go, or represented as going, upon the false ground that 
only Congress can constitutionally declare war — that is, 
of course, sanction purely offensive operations. Long, 
however, before the dispute could come to a head, the 
brilliant successes of General Taylor and still more of 
General Scott, with a few trained troops against large 
undisciplined numbers, put all criticism at a disadvan- 
tage. The City of Mexico was occupied by Scott in Sep- 
tember, 1847, ano - peace, with the cession of the vast 
domain that had been coveted, was concluded in May, 
1848. 

War having begun, the line of the Whig opposition 
was to vote supplies and protest as best they might 
against the language endorsing Polk's policy which, in 
the pettiest spirit of political manoeuvre, was sometimes 
incorporated in the votes. In this Lincoln steadily sup- 
ported them. One of his only two speeches of any 
length in Congress was made on the occasion of a vote 
of this kind in 1848. The subject was by that time so 
stale that his speech could hardly make much impres- 
sion, but it appears to-day an extraordinarily clear, 
strong, upright presentment of the complex and unpopu- 
lar case against the war. His other long speech is ele- 
vated above buffoonery by a brief, cogent, and earnest 
passage on the same theme, but it was a frank piece of 
clowning on a licensed occasion. It was the fashion for 
the House when its own dissolution and a Presidential 
election were both imminent to have a sort of rhetorical 
scrimmage in which members on both sides spoke for 
the edification of their own constituencies and that of 
Buncombe. The Whigs were now happy in having 
"diverted the war-thunder against the Democrats" by 
running for the Presidency General Taylor, a good sol- 
dier who did not know whether he was a Whig or a 
Democrat, but who, besides being a hero of the war, 
was inoffensive to the South, for he lived in Louisiana 



m ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

and had slaves of his own. It is characteristic of the 
time that the Democrats, in whose counsels the Southern 
men prevailed, now began a practice of choosing North- 
ern candidates, and nominated General Cass of Michi- 
gan, whose distinction had not been won in war. The 
Democratic Congressmen in this debate made game of 
the Whigs, with their war-hero, and seem to have car- 
ried a crude manner of pleasantry pretty far when 
Lincoln determined to show them that they could be 
beaten at that game. He seems to have succeeded 
admirably, with a burlesque comparison, too long to 
quote, of General Cass's martial exploits with his own, 
and other such-like matter enhanced by the most extrava- 
gant Western manner and delivery. 

Anyone who reads much of the always grave and 
sometimes most moving orations of Lincoln's later 
years may do well to turn back to this agreeable piece 
of debating-society horse-play. But he should then turn 
a few pages further back to Lincoln's little Bill for the 
gradual and compensated extinction of slavery in the 
District of Columbia, where Washington stands. He 
introduced this of his own motion, without encourage- 
ment from Abolitionist or Non-Abolitionist, accompany- 
ing it with a brief statement that he had carefully 
ascertained that the representative people of the district 
privately approved of it, but had no right to commit 
them to public support of it. It perished, of course. 
With the views which he had long formed and continued 
to hold about slavery, very few opportunities could in 
these years come to him of proper and useful action 
against it. He seized upon these opportunities not less 
because in doing so he had to stand alone. 

His career as a Congressman was soon over. There 
was no movement to re-elect him, and the Whigs now 
lost his constituency. His speeches and his votes against 
the Mexican war offended his friends. Even his part- 
ner, the Abolitionist, Mr. Herndon, whose further 
acquaintance we have to make, was too much infected 
with the popularity of a successful war to understand 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 95 

Lincoln's plain position or to approve of his giving 
votes which might seem unpatriotic. Lincoln wrote 
back to him firmly but sadly. Persuaded as he was that 
political action in advance of public sentiment was idle, 
resigned and hardened as we might easily think him to 
many of the necessities of party discipline, it evidently 
caused him naive surprise that, when he was called upon 
for a definite opinion, anybody should expect him, as he 
candidly puts it, to " tell a lie." 

As a retiring Congressman he was invited to speak 
in several places in the East on behalf of Taylor's can- 
didature; and after Taylor's election claimed his right 
as the proper person to be consulted, with certain others, 
about Government appointments in Illinois. Taylor car- 
ried out the " spoils system " with conscientious thor- 
oughness ; as he touchingly said, he had thought over the 
question from a soldier's point of view, and could not 
bear the thought that, while he as their chief enjoyed the 
Presidency, the private soldiers in the Whig ranks 
should not get whatever was going. Lincoln's attitude 
in the matter may be of interest. To take an example, 
he writes to the President, about the postmastership in 
some place, that he does not know whether the President 
desires to change the tenure of such offices on party 
grounds, and offers no advice; that A is a Whig whose 
appointment is much desired by the local Whigs, and a 
most respectable man; that B, also a Whig, would in 
Lincoln's judgment be a somewhat better but not so 
popular subject for appointment; that C, the present 
postmaster, is a Democrat, but is on every ground, save 
his political party, a proper person for the office. There 
was an office which he himself desired, it was that of 
" Commissioner of the General Land Office," a new 
office in Washington dealing with settlement on Govern- 
ment lands in the West. He was probably well suited 
to it; but his application was delayed by the fact that 
friends in Illinois wanted the post too; a certain Mr. 
Butterfield (a lawyer renowned for his jokes, which 
showed* it is said, " at least a well-marked humorous 



96 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

intention ") got it; and then it fell to the lot of the dis- 
appointed Lincoln to have to defend Butterfield against 
some unfair attack. But a tempting offer was made 
him, that of the Governorship of Oregon Territory, and 
he wavered before refusing to take work which would, 
as it happened, have kept him far away when the oppor- 
tunity of his life came. It was Mrs. Lincoln who would 
not let him cut himself off so completely from politics. 
As for himself, it is hard to resist the impression that 
he was at this time a tired man, disappointed as to the 
progress of his career and probably also disappointed 
and somewhat despondent about politics and the possi- 
bilities of good service that lay open to politicians. It 
may be that this was partly the reason why he was not 
at all aroused by the crisis in American politics which 
must now be related. 



2. California and the Compromise of 1850. 

It has been said that the motive for the conquests 
from Mexico was the desire for slave territory. The 
attractive part of the new dominion was of course Cali- 
fornia. Arizona and New Mexico are arid regions, and 
the mineral wealth of Nevada was unknown. The 
peacefully acquired region of Oregon, far north, need 
not concern us, but Oregon became a free State in 1859. 
Early in the war a struggle began between Northerners 
and Southerners (to a large extent independent of party) 
in the Senate and the House as to whether slavery 
should be allowed in the conquered land or not. David 
Wilmot, a Northern Democratic Congressman, pro- 
posed a proviso to the very first money grant connected 
with the war, that slavery should be forbidden in any 
territory to be annexed. The " Wilmot Proviso " was 
proposed again on every possible occasion; Lincoln, by 
the way, sturdily supported it while in Congress; it was 
always voted down. Cass proposed as a solution of all 
difficulties that the question of slavery should be left 
to the people of the new Territories or States them- 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 97 

selves. The American public, apt as condensing an 
argument into a phrase, dismissed Cass's principle for 
the time being with the epithet " squatter sovereignty." 
Calhoun and his friends said it was contrary to the Con- 
stitution that an American citizen should not be free to 
move with his property, including his slaves, into terri- 
tory won by the Union. The annexation was carried 
out, and the question of slavery was unsettled. Then 
events took a surprising turn. 

In the winter of 1848 gold was discovered in Cali- 
fornia. Throughout 1849 gold-seekers came pouring in 
from every part of the world. This miscellaneous new 
people, whose rough ways have been more celebrated in 
literature than those of any similar crowd, lived at first 
in considerable anarchy, but they determined without 
delay to set up some regular system of government. 
In the course of 1849 they elected a Convention to draw 
up a State Constitution, and to the astonishment of all 
the States the Convention unanimously made the pro- 
hibition of slavery part of that Constitution. There was 
no likelihood that, with a further influx of settlers of 
the same sort, this decision of California would alter. 
Was California to be admitted as a State with this Con- 
stitution of its own choice, which the bulk of the people 
of America approved? 

To politicians of the school now fully developed in 
the South there seemed nothing outrageous in saying 
that it should be refused admission. To them Cal- 
houn's argument, which regarded a citizen's slave as his 
chattel in the same sense as his hat or walking-stick, 
seemed the ripe fruit of logic. It did not shock them in 
the least that they were forcing the slave system on an 
unwilling community, for were not the Northerners pre- 
pared to force the free system? A prominent Southern 
Senator, talking with a Northern colleague a little later, 
said triumphantly: "I see how it is. You may force 
freedom as much as you like, but we are to beware how 
we force slavery," and was surprised that the North- 
erner cheerfully accepted this position. It is necessary 



98 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

to remember throughout the following years that, what- 
ever ordinary Southerners thought in private, their 
whole political action was now based on the assumption 
that slavery, as it was, was an institution which no rea- 
sonable man could think wrong. 

Zachary Taylor, unlike Harrison, the previous hero 
of the Whigs, survived his inauguration by sixteen 
months. He was no politician at all, but placed in the 
position of President, for which fairness and firmness 
were really the greatest qualifications, he was man 
enough to rely on his own good sense. He had come 
to Washington under the impression that the disputes 
which raged there were due to the aggressiveness of the 
North; a very little time there convinced him of the con- 
trary. Slave-owner as he was, the claim of the South 
to force slavery on California struck him as an arrogant 
pretension, and so far as matters rested with him, he was 
simply not to be moved by it. He sent a message to 
Congress advising the admission of California with the 
constitution of its own choice. When, as we shall 
shortly see, the great men of the Senate thought the 
case demanded conciliation and a great scheme of com- 
promise, he resolutely disagreed; he used the whole of 
his influence against their compromise, and it is believed 
with good reason that he would have put his veto as 
President on the chief measure in which the compromise 
issued. If he had lived to carry out his policy, it seems 
possible that there would have been an attempt to exe- 
cute the threats of secession which were muttered — this 
time in Virginia. But it is almost certain that at that 
time, and with the position which he occupied, he would 
have been able to quell the movement at once. There 
is nothing to suggest that Taylor was a man of any 
unusual gifts of intellect, but he had what we may call 
character, and it was the one thing wanting in political 
life at the time. The greatest minds in American 
politics, as we shall see, viewed the occasion otherwise, 
but, in the light of what followed, it seems a signal and 
irreparable error that, when the spirit of aggression ris« 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 99 

ing in the South had taken definite shape in a demand 
which was manifestly wrongful, it was bought off and not 
met with a straightforward refusal. Taylor died in the 
course of 1850 and Vice-President Millard Fillmore, of 
New York, succeeded him. Fillmore had an appear- 
ance of grave and benign wisdom which led a French- 
man to describe him as the ideal ruler of a Republic, but 
he was a pattern of that outwardly dignified, yet nerve- 
less and heartless respectability, which was more dan- 
gerous to America at that period than political reckless- 
ness or want of scruple. 

The actual issue of the crisis was that the admission 
of California was bought from the South by large con- 
cessions in other directions. This was the proposal of 
Henry Clay, who was now an old man anxious for the 
Union, but had been a lover of such compromises ever 
since he promoted the Missouri Compromise thirty 
years ago; but, to the savage indignation of some of 
his Boston admirers, Webster used the whole force of 
his influence and debating power in support of Clay. 
The chief concessions made to the South were two. In 
the first place Territorial Governments were set up in 
New Mexico and Utah (since then the home of the Mor- 
mons) without any restriction on slavery. This conces- 
sion was defended in the North on the ground that it 
was a sham, because the physical character of those 
regions made successful slave plantations impossible 
there. But it was, of course, a surrender of the prin- 
ciple which had been struggled for in the Wilmot Pro- 
viso during the last four years; and the Southern lead- 
ers showed the clearness of their limited vision by 
valuing it just upon that ground. There had been rea- 
son for the territorial concessions to slavery in the past 
generation because it was established in the territories 
concerned; but there was no such reason now. The sec- 
ond concession was that of a new Federal law to ensure 
the return of fugitive slaves from the free States. The 
demand for this was partly factitious, for the States in 
the far South, which were not exposed to loss of slaves, 



ioo ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

were the most insistent on it, and it would appear that 
the Southern leaders felt it politic to force the accept- 
ance of the measure in a form which would humiliate 
their opponents. There is no escape from the conten- 
tion, which Lincoln especially admitted without reserve, 
that the enactment of an effective Act of this sort was, 
if demanded, due under the provisions of the Consti- 
tution; but the measure actually passed was manifestly 
defiant of all principles of justice. It was so framed as 
almost to destroy the chance which a lawfully free negro 
might have of proving his freedom, if arrested by the 
professional slave-hunters as a runaway. It was the sort 
of Act which a President should have vetoed as a fraud 
upon the Constitution. Thus over and above the objec- 
tion, now plain, to any compromise, the actual compro- 
mise proposed was marked by flagrant wrong. But it 
was put through by the weight of Webster and Clay. 

This event marks the close of a period. It was the 
last achievement of Webster and Clay, both of whom 
passed away in 1852 in the hope that they had perma- 
nently pacified the Union. Calhoun, their great con- 
temporary, had already died in 1850, gloomily presag- 
ing and lamenting the coming danger to the Union 
which was so largely his own creation. For a while the 
cheerful view of Webster and Clay seemed better justi- 
fied. There had been angry protest in the North against 
the Fugitive Slave Law; there was some forcible resist- 
ance to arrests of negroes; and some States passed Pro- 
tection of Liberty Acts of their own to impede the Fed- 
eral law in its working. But the excitement, which had 
flared up suddenly, died down as suddenly. In the Presi- 
dential election of 1852 Northerners generally reflected 
that they wanted quiet and had an instinct, curiously falsi- 
fied, that the Democratic party was the more likely to 
give it them. The Whigs again proposed a hero, Gen- 
eral Scott, a greater soldier than Taylor, but a vainer 
man, who mistakenly broke with all precedent and went 
upon the stump for himself. The President who was 
elected, Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, a friend of 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 101 

Hawthorne, might perhaps claim the palm among the 
Presidents of those days, for sheer, deleterious insig- 
nificance. The favourite observation of his contempo- 
raries upon him was that he was a gentleman, but his 
convivial nature made the social attractiveness of South- 
ern circles in Washington overpowering to any brain or 
character that he may have possessed. A new genera- 
tion of political personages now came to the front. 
Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, a man of force and con- 
siderable dignity, began to take the leading part in the 
powerful group of Southern Senators; Stephen Douglas, 
of Illinois, rapidly became the foremost man of the 
Democratic party generally; William Seward, late Gov- 
ernor of New York, and Salmon Chase, a Democrat, 
late Governor of Ohio, had played a manful part in 
the Senate in opposition to Webster and Clay and their 
compromise. From this time on we must look on these 
two, joined a little later by Charles Sumner, of Massa- 
chusetts, as the obvious leaders in the struggle against 
slavery which was shortly to be renewed, and in which 
Lincoln's part seemed likely to remain a humble one. 

3. Lincoln in Retirement. 

Whether Seward and Chase and the other opponents 
of the Compromise were right, as it now seems they 
were, or not, Lincoln was not the man who in the un- 
looked-for crisis of 1850 would have been likely to 
make an insurrectionary stand against his old party- 
leader Clay, and the revered constitutional authority of 
Webster. He had indeed little opportunity to do so in 
Illinois, but his one recorded speech of this period, an 
oration to a meeting of both parties on the death of 
Clay in 1852, expresses approval of the Compromise. 
This speech, which is significant of the trend of his 
thoughts at this time, does not lend itself to brief 
extracts because it is wanting in the frankness of his 
speeches before and after. A harsh reference to Aboli- 
tionists serves to disguise the fact that the whole speech 



102 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

is animated by antagonism to slavery. The occasion and 
the subject are used with rather disagreeable subtlety 
to insinuate opposition to slavery into the minds of a 
cautious audience. The speaker himself seems satisfied 
with the mood of mere compromise which had governed 
Clay in this matter, or rather perhaps he is twisting 
Clay's attitude into one of more consistent opposition 
to slavery than he really showed. In any case we can 
be quite sure that the moderate and subtle but intensely 
firm opinion with which a little later Lincoln returned 
to political strife was the product of long and deep and 
anxious thought during the years from 1849 to 1854. 
On the surface it did not go far beyond the condemna- 
tion of slavery and acceptance of the Constitution which 
had guided him earlier, nor did it seem to differ from 
the wide-spread public opinion which in 1854 created a 
new party; but there was this difference that Lincoln 
had by then looked at the matter in all its bearings, and 
prepared his mind for all eventualities. We shall find, 
and need not be surprised to find, that he who now 
hung back a little, and who later moved when public 
opinion moved, later still continued to move when pub- 
lic opinion had receded. 

What we know of these years of private life is mainly 
due to Mr. William Herndon, the young lawyer already 
quoted, whom he took into partnership in 1845, an d 
who kept on the business of the firm in Springfield till 
Lincoln's death. This gentleman was, like Boswell, of 
opinion that a great man is not best portrayed as a 
figure in a stained-glass window. He had lived with 
Lincoln, groaned under his odd ways, and loved them, 
for sixteen years before his Presidency, and after his 
death he devoted much research, in his own memory 
and those of many others, to the task of substituting for 
Lincoln's aureole the battered tall hat, with valuable 
papers stuck in its lining, which he had long contem- 
plated with reverent irritation. Mr. Herndon was not 
endowed with Boswell's artistic gift for putting his 
materials together, perhaps because he lacked that 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 103 

delicacy and sureness of moral perception which more 
than redeemed Boswell's absurdities. He succeeded on 
the whole in his aim, for the figure that more or less 
distinctly emerges from the litter of his workshop is 
lovable; but in spite of all Lincoln's melancholy, the 
dreariness of his life, sitting with his feet on the table 
in his unswept and untidy office at Illinois, or riding on 
circuit or staying at ramshackle western inns with the 
Illinois bar, cannot have been so unrelieved as it is in 
Mr. Herndon's presentation. And Herndon overdid 
his part. He ferreted out petty incidents which he 
thought might display the acute Lincoln as slightly too 
acute, when for all that can be seen Lincoln acted just 
as any sensible man would have acted. But the result 
is that, in this part of his life especially, Lincoln's way 
of living was subjected to so close a scrutiny as few men 
have undergone. 

Herndon's scrutiny does not reveal the current of his 
thoughts either on life generally or on the political 
problem which hereafter was to absorb him. It shows 
on the contrary, and the recollections of his Presidency 
confirm it, that his thought on any important topic 
though it might flash out without disguise in rare 
moments of intimacy, usually remained long unexpressed. 
His great sociability had perhaps even then a rather 
formidable side to it. He was not merely amusing him- 
self and other people, when he chatted and exchanged 
anecdotes far into the night; there was an element, not 
ungenial, of purposeful study in it all. He was build- 
ing up his knowledge of ordinary human nature, his 
insight into popular feeling, his rather slow but sure 
comprehension of the individual men whom he did 
know. It astonished the self-improving young Herndon 
that the serious books he read were few and that he 
seldom seemed to read the whole of them — though with 
the Bible, Shakespeare, and to a less extent Burns, he 
saturated his mind. The few books and the great many 
men were part of one study. In so far as his thought 
and study turned upon politics if seems to have led him 



104 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

soon to the conclusion that he had for the present no 
part to play that was worth playing. By 1854, as he 
said himself, " his profession as a lawyer had almost 
superseded the thought of politics in his mind." But it 
does not seem that the melancholy sense of some great 
purpose unachieved or some great destiny awaiting him 
ever quite left him. He must have felt that his chance 
of political fame was in all appearance gone, and would 
have liked to win himself a considerable position and 
a little (very little) money as a lawyer; but the study, 
in the broadest sense, of which these years were full, 
evidently contemplated a larger education of himself as 
a man than professional keenness, or any such interest 
as he had in law, will explain. Middle-aged and from 
his own point of view a failure, he was set upon mak- 
ing himself a bigger man. 

In some respects he let himself be. His exterior 
oddities never seem to have toned down much; he could 
not be taught to introduce tidiness or method into 
his office; nor did he make himself an exact lawyer; a 
rough and ready familiarity with practice and a firm 
grasp of larger principles of law contented him without 
any great apparatus of learning. His method of study 
was as odd as anything else about him; he could read 
hard and commit things to memory in the midst of 
bustle and noise; on the other hand, since reading aloud 
was his chosen way of impressing what he read on his 
own mind, he would do it at all sorts of times to the 
sore distraction of his partner. When his studies are 
spoken of, observation and thought on some plan con- 
cealed in his own mind must be taken to have formed 
the largest element in these studies. There was, how- 
ever, one methodic discipline, highly commended of 
old but seldom perhaps seriously pursued with the like 
object by men of forty, even self-taught men, which he 
did pursue. Some time during these years he mastered 
the first six Books of Euclid. It would probably be 
no mere fancy if we were to trace certain definite 
effects of this discipline upon his mind and character. 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 105 

The faculty which he had before shown of reducing 
his thought on any subject to the simplest and plainest 
terms possible, now grew so strong that few men can 
be compared with him in this. He was gaining, too, 
from some source, what the ancient geometers would 
themselves have claimed as partly the product of their 
study: the plain fact and its plain consequences were not 
only clear in calm hours of thought, but remained 
present to him, felt and instinctive, through seasons of 
confusion, passion, and dismay. His life in one sense 
was very full of companionship, but it is probable that 
in his real intellectual interests he was lonely. To 
Herndon, intelligently interested in many things, his 
master's mind, much as he held it in awe, seemed chill- 
ingly unpoetic — which is a curious view of a mind 
steeped in Shakespeare and Burns. The two partners 
had been separately to Niagara. Herndon was anxious 
to know what had been Lincoln's chief impression, and 
was pained by the reply, " I wondered where all that 
water came from," which he felt showed materialism 
and insensibility. Lincoln's thought had, very obvi- 
ously, a sort of poetry of its own, but of a vast and 
rather awful kind. He had occasionally written verses 
of his own a little before this time; sad verses about 
a friend who had become a lunatic, wondering that he 
should be allowed to outlive his mind while happy 
young lives passed away, and sad verses about a visit 
to old familiar fields in Indiana, where he wandered 
brooding, as he says, 

" Till every sound appears a knell, 
And every spot a grave." 

They are not great poetry; but they show a correct ear 
for verse, and they are not the verses of a man to whom 
any of the familiar forms of poetic association were 
unusual. They are those of a man in whom the habitual 
undercurrent of thought was melancholy. 

Apart from these signs and the deep, humorous 
delight which he evidently took in his children, there 



106 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

may be something slightly forbidding in this figure of a 
gaunt man, disappointed in ambition and not even happy 
at home, rubbing along through a rather rough crowd, 
with uniform rough geniality and perpetual jest; all the 
while in secret forging his own mind into an instrument 
for some vaguely foreshadowed end. But there are 
two or three facts which stand out certain and have to 
be taken account of in any image we may be tempted to 
form of him. In the first place, his was no forbidding 
figure at the time to those who knew him; a queer and 
a comic figure evidently, but liked, trusted, and by some 
loved; reputed for honest dealing and for kindly and 
gentle dealing; remarked too by some at that time, as 
before and ever after, for the melancholy of his face 
in repose; known by us beyond doubt to have gone 
through great pain; known lastly among his fellows in 
his profession for a fire of anger that flashed out only 
in the presence of cruelty and wrong. 

His law practice, which he pursued with energy, and 
on which he was now, it seems, prepared to look as 
his sole business in life, fitted in none the less well with 
his deliberately adopted schemes of self-education. A 
great American lawyer, Mr. Choate, assures us that at 
the Illinois bar in those days Lincoln had to measure 
himself against very considerable men in suits of a class 
that required some intellect and training. And in his 
own way he held his own among these men. A lay- 
man may humbly conjecture that the combination in one 
person of the advocate and the solicitor must give 
opportunities of far truer intellectual training than the 
mere advocate can easily enjoy. The Illinois advocate 
was not all the time pleading the cause which he was 
employed to plead, and which if it was once offered 
to him it was his duty to accept; he was the personal 
adviser of the client whose cause he pleaded, and 
within certain limits he could determine whether the 
cause was brought at all, and if so whether he should 
take it up himself or leave it to another man. The rule 
in such matters was elastic and practice varied. Lin- 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 107 

coin's practice went to the very limit of what is per- 
missible in refusing legal aid to a cause he disapproved. 
Coming into court he discovered suddenly some fact 
about his case which was new to him but which would 
probably not have justified an English barrister in 
throwing up his brief. Thvi case was called; he was 
absent; the judge sent to his hotel and got back a mes- 
sage: " Tell the judge I'm washing my hands." One 
client received advice much to this effect: U I can win 
your case; I can get you $600. I can also make an 
honest family miserable. But I shall not take your case, 
and I shall not take your fee. One piece of advice I 
will give you gratis: Go home and think seriously 
whether you cannot make $600 in some honest way." 
And this habit of mind was beyond his control. Col- 
leagues whom he was engaged to ass'st in cases agreed 
that if a case lost his sympathy he became helpless and 
useless in it. This, of course, was not the way to make 
money; but he got along and won a considerable local 
position at the bar, for his perfect honesty in argument 
and in statement of fact was known to have won the 
confidence of the judges, and a difficult case which he 
thought was right elicited the full and curious powers 
of his mind. His invective upon occasion was by all 
accounts terrific. An advocate glanced at Lincoln's notes 
for his speech, when he was appearing against a very 
heartless swindler and saw that they concluded with the 
ominous words* " Skin Defendant." The vitriolic out- 
burst which occurred at the point thus indicated seems 
to have been long remembered by the Illinois bar. To 
a young man who wished to be a lawyer yet shrunk from 
the profession lest it should necessarily involve some 
dishonesty Lincoln wrote earnestly and wisely, showing 
him how false his impression of the law was, but con- 
cluding with earnest entreaty that he would not enter 
the profession if he still had any fear of being led by 
it to become a knave. 

One of his cases is interesting for its own sake> not 
for his part in it. He defended without fee the son 



108 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

of his old foe and friend Jack Armstrong, and of 
Hannah, who mended his breeches, on a charge of 
murder. Six witnesses swore that they had seen him 
do the deed about n p.m. on such and such a night. 
Cross-examined: They saw it all quite clearly; they saw 
it so clearly because of the moonlight. The only evi- 
dence for the defence was an almanac. There had been 
no moon that night. Another case is interesting for his 
sake. Two young men set up in a farm together, 
bought a waggon and team from a poor old farmer, 
Lincoln's client, did not pay him, and were sued. They 
had both been just under twenty-one when they con- 
tracted the debt, and they were advised to plead 
infancy. A stranger who was present in Court described 
afterwards his own indignation as the rascally tale was 
unfolded, and his greater indignation as he watched the 
locally famous Mr. Lincoln, lying back in his seat, nod- 
ding complacently and saying, " I reckon that's so," as 
each of the relevant facts was produced, and the rele- 
vant Statute read and expounded. At last, as the on- 
looker proceeded to relate, the time came for Lincoln 
to address the jury, with whom, by Illinois law, the 
issue still rested. Slowly he disengaged his long, lean 
form from his seat, and before he had got it drawn out 
to its height he had fixed ~ar gaze of extraordinary 
benevolence on the two disgraceful young defendants and 
begun in this strain : " Gentlemen of the jury, are you 
prepared that these two young men shall enter upon 
life and go through life with the stain of a dishonour- 
able transaction for ever affixed to them," and so forth 
at just sufficient length and with just enough of Shake- 
spearean padding about honour. The result with that 
emotional and probably irregular Western court is obvi- 
ous, and the story concludes with the quite credible 
assertion that the defendants themselves were relieved. 
Any good jury would, of course, have been steeled 
against the appeal, which might have been expected, to 
their compassion for a poor and honest old man. A 
kind of innocent and benign cunning has been the most 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 109 

engaging quality in not a few great characters. It is 
tempting, though at the risk of undue solemnity, to look 
for the secret of Lincoln's cunning in this instance. We 
know from copybooks and other sources that these two 
young men, starting on the down grade with the help of 
their blackguardly legal adviser, were objects for pity, 
more so than the man who was about to lose a certain 
number of dollars. Lincoln, as few other men would 
have done, felt a certain actual regret for them then and 
there; he felt it so naturally that he knew the same 
sympathy could be aroused, at least in twelve honest men 
who already wished they could find for the plaintiff. It 
has often been remarked that the cause of his later 
power was a knowledge of the people's mind which was 
curiously but vitally bound up with his own rectitude. 
Any attempt that we may make to analyse a subtle 
character and in some respects to trace its growth is 
certain to miss the exact mark. But it is in any case 
plain that Abraham Lincoln left political life in 1849, 
a praiseworthy self-made man with good sound views 
but with nothing much to distinguish him above many 
other such, and at a sudden call returned to political 
life in 1854 with a touch of something quite uncommon 
added to those good sound views. 

4. The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise. 

The South had become captive to politicians, per- 
sonally reputable and of some executive capacity, who 
had converted its natural prejudice into a definite doc- 
trine which was paradoxical and almost inconceivably 
narrow, and who, as is common in such instances of 
perversion and fanaticism, knew hardly any scruple in 
the practical enforcement of their doctrine. In the 
North, on the other hand, though there were some few 
politicians who were clever and well-intentioned, public 
opinion had no very definite character, and public men 
generally speaking were flabby. At such a time the 
sheer adventurer has an excellent field before him and 
perhaps has his appointed use. 



no ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Stephen Douglas, who was four years younger than 
Lincoln, had come to Illinois from the Eastern States 
just about the time when Lincoln entered the Legisla- 
ture. He had neither money nor friends to start with, 
but almost immediately secured, by his extraordinary 
address in pushing himself, a clerkship in the Assem- 
bly. He soon became, like Lincoln, a lawyer and a 
legislator, but was on the Democratic side. He rap- 
idly soared into regions beyond the reach of Lincoln, 
and in 1847 became a Senator for Illinois, where he 
later became Chairman of the Committee on Terri- 
tories, and as such had to consider the question of pro- 
viding for the government of the districts called Kansas 
and Nebraska, which lay west and north-west of 
Missouri, and from which slavery was excluded by the 
Missouri Compromise. He was what in England is 
called a " Jingo," and was at one time eager to fight this 
country for the possession of what is now British 
Columbia. His short figure gave an impression of 
abounding strength and energy which obtained him the 
nickname of " the little Giant." With no assignable 
higher quality, and with the blustering, declamatory, 
shamelessly fallacious and evasive oratory of a common 
demagogue, he was nevertheless an accomplished Par- 
liamentarian, and imposed himself as effectively upon 
the Senate as he did upon the people of Illinois and the 
North generally. He was, no doubt, a remarkable man, 
with the gift of attracting many people. A political 
opponent has described vividly how at first sight he was 
instantly repelled by the sinister and dangerous air of 
Douglas' scowl; a still stronger opponent, but a woman, 
Mrs. Beecher Stowe, seems on the contrary to have 
found it impossible to hate him. What he now did dis- 
played at any rate a sporting quality. 

In the course of 1854 Stephen Douglas while in 
charge of an inoffensive Bill dealing with the govern- 
ment of Kansas and Nebraska converted it into a form 
in which it empowered the people of Kansas at any time 
to decide for themselves whether they would permit 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT in 

slavery or not, and in express terms repealed the 
Missouri Compromise. With the easy connivance of 
President Pierce and the enthusiastic support of the 
Southerners, and by some extraordinary exercise of his 
art as demagogue and Parliamentarian, he triumphantly 
ran this measure through. 

Just how it came about seems to be rather obscure, 
but it is easy to conjecture his motives. Trained in a 
school in which scruple or principle were unknown and 
the man who arrives is the great man, Douglas, like 
other such adventurers, was accessible to visions of a 
sort. He cared nothing whether negroes were slaves 
or not, and doubtless despised Northern and Southern 
sentiment on that subject equally; as he frankly said 
once, on any question between white men and negroes he 
was on the side of the white men, and on any question 
between negroes and crocodiles he would be on the side 
of the negroes. But he did care for the development 
of the great national heritage in the West, that sub- 
ject of an easy but perfectly wholesome patriotic pride 
with which we are familiar. It must have been a satis- 
faction to him to feel that North and South would now 
have an equal chance in that heritage, and also that the 
white settlers in the West would be relieved of any 
restriction on their freedom. None the less his action 
was to the last degree reckless. The North had shown 
itself ready in 1850 to put up with a great deal of quiet 
invasion of its former principle, but to lay hands upon 
the sacred letter of the Act in which that principle was 
enshrined was to invite exciting consequences. 

The immediate consequences were two-fold. In the 
first place Southern settlers came pouring into Kansas 
and Northern settlers in still larger numbers (rendered 
larger still by the help of an emigration society formed 
in the North-East for that purpose) came pouring in 
too. It was at first a race to win Kansas for slavery 
or for freedom. When it became apparent that free- 
dom was winning easily, the race turned into a civil war 
between these two classes of immigrants for the posses* 



ii2 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

sion of the Territorial government, and this kept on its 
scandalous and bloody course for three or four years. 

In the second place there was a revolution in the party 
system. The old Whig party, which, whatever its tend- 
encies, had avoided having any principle in regard to 
slavery, now abruptly and opportunely expired. There 
had been an attempt once before, and that time mainly 
among the Democrats, to create a new " Free-soil 
Party," but it had come to very little. This time a per- 
manent fusion was accomplished between the majority of 
the former Whigs in the North and a numerous seces- 
sion from among the Northern Democrats. They created 
the great Republican party, of which the name and 
organisation have continued to this day, but of which the 
original principle was simply and solely that there 
should be no further extension of slavery upon territory 
present or future of the United States. It naturally con- 
sisted of Northerners only. This was of course an 
ominous fact, and caused people, who were too timid 
either to join the Republicans or turn Democrat, to take 
refuge in another strange party, formed about this time, 
which had no views about slavery. This was the 
" American " party, commonly called the u Know- 
Nothing " party from its ridiculous and objectionable 
secret organisation. Its principle was dislike of foreign 
immigrants, especially such as were Roman Catholics. 
To them ex-President Fillmore, protesting against " the 
madness of the times " when men ventured to say yes 
or no on a question relating to slavery, fled for com- 
fort, and became their candidate for the Presidency at 
the next election. 

It was in 1854 that Lincoln returned to political life 
as one of the founders of the Republican party. But 
it will be better at once to deal with one or two later 
events with which he was not specially concerned. The 
Republicans chose as their Presidential candidate in 
1856 an attractive figure, John Fremont, a Southerner of 
French origin, who had conducted daring and successful 
explorations in Oregon, had some hand (perhaps a very 



LINCOLN IK CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 113 

important hand) in conquering California from Mexico, 
and played a prominent part in securing California for 
freedom. The Southern Democrats again secured a 
Northern instrument in James Buchanan of Pennsyl- 
vania, an elderly and very respectable man, who was 
understood to be well versed in diplomatic and official 
life. He was a more memorable personage than Pierce. 
A great chorus of friendly witnesses to his character has 
united in ascribing all his actions to weakness. 

Buchanan was elected; but for a brand-new party the 
Republicans had put up a very good fight, and they were 
in the highest of spirits when, shortly after Buchanan's 
Inauguration in 1857, a staggering blow fell upon them 
from an unexpected quarter. This was nothing less 
than a pronouncement by the Chief Justice and a major- 
ity of Justices in the Supreme Court of the United 
States, that the exclusion of slavery from any portion 
of the Territories, and therefore, of course, the whole 
aim and object of the Republicans, was, as Calhoun had 
contended eight or ten years before, unconstitutional. 

Dred Scott was a Missouri slave whose misfortunes it is 
needless to compassionate, since, after giving his name 
to one of the most famous law cases in history, he was 
emancipated with his family by a new master into whose 
hands he had passed. Some time before the Missouri 
Compromise was repealed he had been taken by his 
master into Minnesota, as a result of which he claimed 
that he became, by virtue of the Missouri Compromise, 
a free man. His right to sue his master in a Federal 
Court rested on the allegation that he was now a citizen 
of Missouri, while his master was a citizen of another 
State. There was thus a preliminary question to be 
decided, Was he really a citizen, before the question, Was 
he a freeman, could arise at all. If the Supreme Court 
followed its established practice, and if it decided against 
his citizenship, it would not consider the question which 
interested the public, that of his freedom. 

Chief Justice Roger Taney may be seen from the 
refined features of his portrait and the clear-cut literary 



ii 4 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

style of his famous judgment to have been a remark- 
able man. He was now eighty-three, but in unimpaired 
intellectual vigour. In a judgment, with which five of 
his colleagues entirely concurred and from which 
only two dissented, he decided that Dred Scott was not 
a citizen, and went on, contrary to practice, to pro- 
nounce, in what was probably to be considered as a mere 
obiter dictum, that Dred Scott was not free, because the 
Missouri Compromise had all along been unconstitu- 
tional and void. Justices McLean and Curtis, especially 
the latter, answered Taney's arguments in cogent judg- 
ments, which it seems generally to be thougnt were right. 
Many lawyers thought so then, and so did the prudent 
Fillmore. This is one of the rare cases where a lay- 
man may have an opinion on a point of law, for the 
argument of Taney was entirely historical and rested 
upon the opinion as to negroes and slavery which he 
ascribed to the makers of the Constitution and the 
authors of the Declaration of Independence. On the 
question of Scott's citizenship he laid down that these 
men had hardly counted Africans as human at all, and 
used words such as " men," " persons," " citizens " in a 
sense which necessarily excluded the negro. We have 
seen already that he was wrong — the Southern politi- 
cian who called the words of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence " a self-evident lie " was a sounder historian 
than Taney; but an amazing fact is to be added: the 
Constitution, whose authors, according to Taney, could 
not conceive of a negro as a citizen, was actually the 
act of a number of States in several of which negroes 
were exercising the full rights of citizens at the time. 
It would be easy to bring almost equally plain consid- 
erations to bear against the more elaborate argument of 
Taney that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitu- 
tional, but it is enough to say this much: the first four 
Presidents — that is, all the Presidents who were in pub- 
lic life when the Constitution was made — had all acted 
unhesitatingly upon the belief that Congress had the 
power to allow or forbid slavery in the Territories. The 



LINCOLN IN CONGRESS AND RETIREMENT 115 

fifth, John Quincy Adams, when he set his hand to Acts 
involving this principle, had consulted before doing so 
the whole of his Cabinet on this constitutional point and 
had signed such legislation with the full concurrence of 
them all. Even Polk had acted later upon the same view. 
The Dred Scott judgment would thus appear to show the 
penetrating power at that time of an altogether fantastic 
opinion. 

The hope, which Taney is known to have entertained, 
that his judgment would compose excited public opin- 
ion, was by no means fulfilled. It raised fierce excite- 
ment. What practical effect would hereafter be given 
to the opinion of six out of the nine judges in that Court 
might depend on many things. But to the Republicans, 
who appealed much to antiquity, it was maddening to be 
thus assured that their whole " platform " was uncon- 
stitutional. In the long run, there seems to be no doubt 
that Taney helped the cause of freedom. He had tried 
to make evident the personal sense of compassion for 
" these unfortunate people " with which he contemplated 
the opinion that he ascribed to a past generation; but he 
failed to do this, and instead he succeeded in imparting 
to the supposed Constitutional view of the slave, as 
nothing but a chattel, a horror which went home to many 
thousands of the warm-hearted men and women of his 
country. 

For the time, however, the Republicans were deeply 
depressed, and a further perplexity shortly befell them. 
An attempt, to which we must shortly return, was made 
to impose the slave system on Kansas against the now 
unmistakable will of the majority there. Against this 
attempt Douglas, in opposition to whom the Republican 
party had been formed, revolted to his lasting honour, 
and he now stood out for the occasion as the champion 
of freedom. It was at this late period of bewilderment 
and confusion that the life-story of Abraham Lincoln 
became one with the life-story of the American people. 



CHAPTER V 

THE RISE OF LINCOLN 

I. Lincoln's Return to Public Life. 

We possess a single familiar letter in which Lincoln 
opened his heart about politics. It was written while 
old political ties were not yet quite broken and new ties 
not quite knit, and it was written to an old and a dear 
friend who was not his political associate. We may 
fittingly place it here, as a record of the strong and 
conflicting feelings out of which his consistent purpose 
in this crisis was formed. 

"24 August, 1855. 
" To Joshua Speed. 

" You know what a poor correspondent I am. 
Ever since I received your very agreeable letter of the 
22nd I have been intending to write you an answer to 
it. You suggest that in political action, now, you and 
I would differ. I suppose we would; not quite so much, 
however, as you may think. You know I dislike slavery, 
and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it. So far 
there is no cause of difference. But you say that 
sooner than yield your legal right to the slave, especially 
at the bidding of those who are not themselves inter- 
ested, you would see the Union dissolved. I am not 
aware that any one is bidding you yield that right; very 
certainly I am not. I leave that matter entirely to your- 
self. I also acknowledge your rights and my obliga- 
tions under the Constitution in regard to your slaves. I 
confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down 
and caught and carried back to their stripes and un- 
requited toil; but I bite my lips and keep quiet. In 1841 
you and I had together a tedious low-water trip on a 
steamboat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may re- 

5l6 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 117 

member, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth 
of the Ohio there were on board ten or a dozen slaves 
shackled together with irons. That sight was a con- 
tinual torment to me, and I see something like it every 
time I touch the Ohio or any other slave border. It 
is not fair for you to assume that I have no interest 
in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power 
to make me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate 
how much the great body of the Northern people do 
crucify their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty 
to the Constitution and the Union. I do oppose the 
extension of slavery because my judgment and feelings 
so prompt me, and I am under no obligations to the 
contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ we 
must. . . , 

" You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a free 
State, as a Christian you will rejoice at it. All decent 
slave holders talk that way and I do not doubt their 
candour. But they never vote that way. Although in 
a private letter or conversation you will express your 
preference that Kansas shall be free, you will vote for 
no man for Congress who would say the same thing 
publicly. No such man could be elected from any dis- 
trict in a slave State. . . . The slave breeders and 
slave traders are a small, odious and detested class 
among you; and yet in politics they dictate the course 
of all of you, and are as completely your masters as 
you are the masters of your own negroes. 

" You inquire where I now stand. That is a disputed 
point. I think I am a Whig; but others say there are 
no Whigs, and that I am an Abolitionist. When I was 
at Washington I voted for the Wilmot Proviso as good 
as forty times; and I never heard of any one attempt- 
ing to un-Whig me for that. I now do no more than 
oppose the extension of slavery. I am not a Know- 
Nothing, that is certain. How could I be? How can 
any one who abhors the oppression of negroes be in 
favour of degrading classes of white people? Our 
progress in degeneracy appears to me pretty rapid. As 



n8 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

a nation we began by declaring that ' all men are created 
equal.' We now practically read it, ' all men are created 
equal, except negroes/ When the Know-Nothings get 
control, it will read, * all men are created equal, except 
negroes and foreigners and Catholics. ' When it comes 
to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where 
they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for 
instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and with- 
out the base alloy of hypocrisy. 

" Mary will probably pass a day or two in Louisville 
in October. My kindest regards to Mrs. Speed. On 
the leading subject of this letter I have more of her 
sympathy than I have of yours; and yet let me say I am 

" Your friend forever, 

"A. Lincoln." 

The shade of doubt which this letter suggests related 
really to the composition of political parties and the 
grouping of political forces, not in the least to the prin- 
ciples by which Lincoln's own actions would be guided. 
He has himself recorded that the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise meant for him the sudden revival in a far 
stronger form of his interest in politics, and, we may 
add, of his political ambition. The opinions which he 
cherished most deeply demanded no longer patience but 
vehement action. The faculties of political organisation 
and of popular debate, of which he enjoyed the exer- 
cise, could now be used for a purpose which satisfied 
his understanding and his heart. 

From 1854 onwards we find Lincoln almost incessantly 
occupied, at conventions, at public meetings, in corre- 
spondence, in secret consultation with those who looked 
to him for counsel, for the one object of strengthening 
the new Republican movement in his own State of 
Illinois, and, so far as opportunity offered, in the neigh- 
bouring States. Some of the best of his reported and 
the most effective of his unreported speeches were deliv- 
ered between 1854 and 1858. Yet as large a part of 
his work in these years was done quietly in the back- 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 119 

ground, and it continued to be his fate to be called upon 
to efface himself. 

It is unnecessary to follow in any detail the labours 
by which he became a great leader in Illinois. It may 
suffice to pick out two instances that illustrate the ways 
of this astute, unselfish man. The first is very trifling 
and shows him merely astute. A Springfield newspaper 
called the Conservative was acquiring too much influ- 
ence as the organ of moderate and decent opinion that 
acquiesced in the extension of negro slavery. The 
Abolitionist, Mr. Herndon, was a friend of the editor. 
One day he showed Lincoln an article in a Southern 
paper whch most boldly justified slavery whether the 
slaves were black or white. Lincoln observed what a 
good thing it would be if the pro-slavery papers of 
Illinois could be led to go this length. Herndon ingen- 
iously used his acquaintance with the editor to procure 
that he should reprint this article with approval. Of 
course that promising journalistic venture, the Co«- 
servative, was at once ruined by so gross an indiscretion. 
This was hard on its confiding editor, and it is not to 
Lincoln's credit that he suggested or connived at this 
trick. But this trumpery tale happens to be a fair 
illustration of two things. In the first place a large 
part of Lincoln's activity went in the industrious and 
watchful performance of services to his cause, very sel- 
dom as questionable but constantly as minute as this, and 
in making himself as in this case confidant and adviser 
to a number of less notable workers. In the second 
place a biographer must set forth if he can the mate- 
rials for the severest judgment on his subject, and in 
the case of a man whose fame was built on his hon- 
esty, but who certainly had an aptitude for ingenious 
tricks and took a humorous delight in them, this duty 
might involve a tedious examination of many unimpor- 
tant incidents. It may save such discussion hereafter to 
say, as can safely be said upon a study of all the transac- 
tions in his life of which the circumstances are known, 
that this trick on the editor of the Conservative marks 



120 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the limit of Lincoln's deviation from the straight path. 
Most of us might be very glad if we had really never 
done anything much more dishonest. 

Our second tale of this period is much more memo- 
rable. In 1856 the term of office of one of the Senators 
for Illinois came to an end; and there was a chance of 
electing an opponent of Douglas. Those of the Repub- 
licans of Illinois who were former Whigs desired the 
election of Lincoln, but could only secure it by the adhe- 
sion of a sufficient number of former Democrats and 
waverers. United States Senators were elected by the 
Legislatures of their own States through a procedure sim- 
ilar to that of the Conclave of Cardinals which elects a 
Pope ; if there were several candidates and no one of them 
had an absolute majority of the votes first cast, the can- 
didate with most votes was not elected; the voting was 
repeated, perhaps many times, till some one had an abso- 
lute majority; the final result was brought about by a 
transfer of votes from one candidate to another in 
which the prompt and cunning wire-puller had sometimes 
a magnificent opportunity for his skill. In this par- 
ticular contest there were many ballots, and Lincoln at 
first led. His supporters were full of eager hope. Lin- 
coln, looking on, discerned before any of them the set- 
ting in of an under-current likely to result in the election 
of a supporter of Douglas. He discerned, too, that the 
surest way to prevent this was for the whole of his 
friends immediately to go over to the Democrat, Lyman 
Trumbull, who was a sound opponent of slavery. He 
sacrificed his own chance instantly by persuading his sup- 
porters to do this. They were very reluctant, but he 
overbore them; one, a very old friend, records that he 
never saw him more earnest and decided. The same 
friend records, what is necessary to the appreciation of 
Lincoln's conduct, that his personal disappointment and 
mortification at his failure were great. Lincoln, it will 
be remembered, had acted just in this way when he 
sought election to the House of Representatives; he was 
to repeat this line of conduct in a manner at least as 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 121 

striking in the following year. Minute criticism of his 
action in many matters becomes pointless when we ob- 
serve that his managing shrewdness was never more sig- 
nally displayed than it was three times over in the sac- 
rifice of his own personal chances. 

For four years, it is to be remembered, the activity 
and influence of which we are speaking were of little 
importance beyond the boundaries of Illinois. It is true 
that at the Republican Convention in 1856 which chose 
Fremont as its candidate for the Presidency, Lincoln was 
exposed for a moment to the risk (for so it was to be 
regarded) of being nominated for the Vice-Presidency; 
but even his greatest speech was not noticed outside 
Illinois, and in the greater part of the Northern States 
his name was known to comparatively few and to them 
only as a local notability of the West. But in the course 
of 1858 he challenged the attention of the whole coun- 
try. There was again a vacancy for a Senator for 
Illinois. Douglas was the sole and obvious candidate 
of the Democrats. Lincoln came forward as his oppo- 
nent. The elections then pending of the State Legisla- 
ture, which in its turn would elect a Senator, became a 
contest between Lincoln and Douglas. In the autumn 
of that year these rival champions held seven joint de- 
bates before mass meetings in the open air at important 
towns of Illinois, taking turns in the right of opening 
the debate and replying at-its close; in addition each was 
speaking at meetings of his own at least once a day for 
three months. At the end of it all Douglas had won his 
seat in the Senate, and Lincoln had not yet gained rec- 
ognition among the Republican leaders as one of them- 
selves. Nevertheless the contest between Lincoln and 
Douglas was one of the decisive events in American his- 
tory, partly from the mere fact that at that particular 
moment any one opposed Douglas at all; partly from 
the manner in which, in the hearing of all America, 
Lincoln formulated the issue between them; partly from 
the singular stroke by which he deliberately ensured his 
own defeat and certain further consequences. 



122 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

2. The Principles and the Oratory of Lincoln, 

We can best understand the causes which suddenly 
made him a man of national consequence by a somewhat 
close examination of the principles and the spirit which 
governed all his public activity from the moment of the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The new Repub- 
lican party which then began to form itself stood for 
what might seem a simple creed; slavery must be toler- 
ated where it existed because the Constitution and the 
maintenance of the Union required it, but it must not 
be allowed to extend beyond its present limits because 
it was fundamentally wrong. This was what most 
Whigs and many Democrats in the North had always 
held, but the formulation of it as the platform of a 
party, and a party which must draw its members almost 
entirely from the North, was bound to raise in an acute 
form questions on which very few men had searched 
their hearts. Men who hated slavery were likely to falter 
and find excuses for yielding when confronted with the 
danger to the Union which would arise. Men who loved 
the Union might in the last resort be ready to sacrifice 
it if they could thereby be rid of complicity with slavery, 
or might be unwilling to maintain it at the cost of 
fratricidal war. The stress of conflicting emotions and 
the complications of the political situation were certain 
to try to the uttermost the faith of any Republican who 
was not very sure just how much he cared for the 
Union and how much for freedom, and what loyalty to 
either principle involved. It was the distinction of 
Lincoln — a man lacking in much of the knowledge which 
statesmen are supposed to possess, and capable of blun- 
dering and hesitation about details — first, that upon 
questions like these he was free from ambiguity of 
thought or faltering of will, and further, that upon his 
difficult path, amid bewildering and terrifying circum- 
stances, he was able to take with him the minds of very 
many very ordinary men. 

In a slightly conventional memorial oration upon 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 123 

Clay, Lincoln had said of him that " he loved his coun- 
try, partly because it was his own country, and mostly 
because it was a free country." He might truly have 
said the like of himself. To him the national unity of 
America, with the Constitution which symbolised it, was 
the subject of pride and of devotion just in so far as it 
had embodied and could hereafter more fully embody 
certain principles of permanent value to mankind. On 
this he fully knew his own inner mind. For the preserva- 
tion of an America which he could value more, say, 
than men value the Argentine Republic, he was to show 
himself better prepared than any other man to pay 
any possible price. But he definitely refused to preserve 
the Union by what in his estimation would have been 
the real surrender of the principles which had made 
Americans a distinct and self-respecting nation. 

Those principles he found in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. Its rhetorical inexactitude gave him no trou- 
ble, and must not, now that its language is out of 
fashion, blind us to the fact that the founders of the 
United States did deliberately aspire to found a com- 
monwealth in which common men and women should 
count for more than elsewhere, and in which, as we 
might now phrase it, all authority must defer somewhat 
to the interests and to the sentiments of the under dog. 
" Public opinion on any subject," he said, " always has 
a ' central idea ' from which all its minor thoughts 
radiate. The * central idea ' in our public opinion at the 
beginning was, and till recently has continued to be, ' the 
equality of man ' ; and, although it has always submitted 
patiently to whatever inequality seemed to be a matter 
of actual necessity, its constant working has been a 
steady and progressive effort towards the practical 
equality of all men." The fathers, he said again, had 
never intended any such obvious untruth as that 
equality actually existed, or that any action of theirs 
could immediately create it; but they had set up a 
standard to which continual approximation could be 
made. 



124 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

So far as white men were concerned such approxima- 
tion had actually taken place; the audiences Lincoln ad- 
dressed were fully conscious that very many thousands 
had found in the United States a scope to lead their 
own lives which the traditions and institutions no less 
than the physical conditions of their former countries 
had denied them. There was no need for him to en- 
large on this fact; but there are repeated indications of 
the distaste and alarm with which he witnessed a 
demand that newcomers from Europe, or some classes 
of them, should be accorded lesser privileges than they 
had enjoyed. 

But notions of freedom and equality as applied to the 
negroes presented a real difficulty. " There is," said 
Lincoln, " a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all 
white people at the idea of an indiscriminate amalgama- 
tion of the white and black men." (We might perhaps 
add that as the inferior race becomes educated and rises 
in status it is likely itself to share the same disgust.) 
Lincoln himself disliked the thought of intermarriage 
between the races. He by no means took it for granted 
that equality in political power must necessarily and 
properly follow upon emancipation. Schemes for colonial 
settlement of the negroes in Africa, or for gradual 
emancipation accompanied by educational measures, ap- 
pealed to his sympathy. It was not given him to take 
a part in the settlement after the war, and it is impos- 
sible to guess what he would have achieved as a con- 
structive statesman; but it is certain that he would have 
proceeded with caution and with the patience of sure 
faith; and he had that human sympathy with the white 
people of the South, and no less with the slaves them- 
selves, which taught him the difficulty of the problem. 
But difficult as the problem was, one solution was cer- 
tainly wrong, and that was the permanent acquiescence 
in slavery. If we may judge from reiteration in his 
speeches, no sophism angered him quite so much as the 
very popular sophism which defended slavery by present- 
ing a literal equality as the real alternative to it. " I 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 125 

protest against the counterfeit logic which says that 
since I do not want a negro woman for my slave I must 
necessarily want her for my wife. I may want her for 
neither. I may simply let her alone. In some respects 
she is certainly not my equal. But in her natural right 
to eat the bread which she has earned by the sweat of her 
brow, she is my equal and the equal of any man." 

The men who had made the Union had, as Lincoln 
contended, and in regard to most of them contended 
justly, been true to principle in their dealing with slavery. 
" They yielded to slavery," he insists, " what the neces- 
sity of the case required, and they yielded nothing 
more." It was, as we know, impossible for them in 
federating America, however much they might hope to 
inspire the new nation with just ideas, to take the power 
of legislating as to slavery within each existing State out 
of the hands of that State. Such power as they actually 
possessed of striking at slavery they used, as we have 
seen and as Lincoln recounted in detail, with all prompti- 
tude and almost to its fullest extent. They reasonably 
believed, though wrongly, that the natural tendency of 
opinion throughout the now freed Colonies with prin- 
ciples of freedom in the air would work steadily 
towards emancipation. " The fathers," Lincoln could 
fairly say, " place slavery, where the public mind could 
rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate 
extinction." The task for statesmen now was " to put 
slavery back where the fathers placed it." 

Now this by no means implied that slavery in the 
States which now adhered to it should be exposed to 
attack from outside, or the slave owner be denied any 
right which he could claim under the Constitution, how- 
ever odious and painful it might be, as in the case of 
the rendition of fugitive slaves, to yield him his rights. 
" We allow," says Lincoln, " slavery to exist in the slave 
States, not because it is right, but from the necessities 
of the Union. We grant a fugitive slave law because 
it is so ' nominated in the bond * ; because our fathers 
so stipulated — had to — and we are bound to carry out 



126 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

this agreement." And the obligations to the slave 
owners and the slave States, which this original agree* 
ment and the fundamental necessities of the Union in- 
volved, must be fulfilled unswervingly, in spirit as well 
as in the letter. Lincoln was ready to give the slave 
States any possible guarantee that the Constitution 
should not be altered so as to take away their existing 
right of self-government in the matter of slavery. He 
had remained in the past coldly aloof from the Aboli- 
tionist propaganda when Herndon and other friends 
tried to interest him in it, feeling, it seems, that agita- 
tion in the free States against laws which existed con- 
stitutionally in the slave States was not only futile but 
improper. With all his power he dissuaded his more 
impulsive friends from lending any aid to forcible and 
unlawful proceedings in defence of freedom in Kansas. 
" The battle of freedom," he exclaims in a vehement 
plea for what may be called moderate as against radical 
policy, " is to be fought out on principle. Slavery is 
violation of eternal right. We have temporised with it 
from the necessities of our condition; but as sure as 
God reigns and school children read, that black foul lie 
can never be consecrated into God's hallowed truth." In 
other words, the sure way and the only way to combat 
slavery lay in the firm and the scrupulous assertion of 
principles which would carry the reason and the con- 
science of the people with them; the repeal of the pro- 
hibition of slavery in the Territories was a defiance of 
such principles, but so too in its way was the disregard 
by Abolitionists of the rights covenanted to the slave 
States. This side of Lincoln's doctrine is apt to jar upon 
us. We feel with a great American historian that the 
North would have been depraved indeed if it had not 
bred Abolitionists, and it requires an effort to sympathise 
with Lincoln's rigidly correct feeling — sometimes harshly 
expressed and sometimes apparently cold. It is not pos- 
sible to us, as it was to him a little later, to look on 
John Brown's adventure merely as a crime. Nor can 
we wonder that, when he was President and Civil 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 127 

War was raging, many good men in the North mis- 
took him and thought him half-hearted, because he 
persisted in his respect for the rights of the Slave States 
so long as there seemed to be a chance of saving the 
Union in that way. It was his primary business, he 
then said, to save the Union if he could; u if I could 
save the Union by emancipating all the slaves I would 
do so; if I could save it by emancipating none of them, 
I would do it; if I could save it by emancipating some 
and not others, I would do that too." But, as in the 
letter at the beginning of this chapter he called Speed 
to witness, his forbearance with slavery cost him real 
pain, and we shall misread both his policy as President 
and his character as a man if we fail to see that in the 
bottom of his mind he felt this forbearance to be re- 
quired by the very same principles which roused him 
against the extension of the evil. Years before, he had 
written to an Abolitionist correspondent that respect for 
the rights of the slave States was due not only to the 
Constitution but, " as it seems to me, in a sense to free- 
dom itself." Negro slavery was not the only important 
issue, nor was it an isolated issue. What really was in 
issue was the continuance of the nation " dedicated," 
as he said on a great occasion, " to the proposition that 
all men are equal," a nation founded by the Union of 
self-governing communities, some of which lagged far 
behind the others in applying in their own midst the ele- 
mentary principles of freedom, but yet a nation actuated 
from its very foundation in some important respects by 
the acknowledgment of human rights. 

The practical policy, then, on which his whole efforts 
were concentrated consisted in this single point — the 
express recognition of the essential evil of slavery by 
the enactment that it should not spread further in the 
Territories subject to the Union. If slavery were thus 
shut up within a ring fence and marked as a wrong 
thing which the Union as a whole might tolerate but 
would not be a party to, emancipation in the slave States 
would follow in course of time. It would come about, 



128 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Lincoln certainly thought, in a way far better for the 
slaves as well as for their masters, than any forced lib- 
eration. He was content to wait for it. " I do not 
mean that when it takes a turn towards ultimate extinc- 
tion, it will be in a day, nor in a year, nor in two years. 
I do not suppose that in the most peaceful way ulti- 
mate extinction would occur in less than a hundred years 
at least, but that it will occur in the best way for both 
races in God's own good time I have no doubt." If we 
wonder whether this policy, if soon enough adopted by 
the Union as a whole, would really have brought on 
emancipation in the South, the best answer is that, when 
the policy did receive national sanction by the election 
of Lincoln, the principal slave States themselves instinc- 
tively recognised it as fatal to slavery. 

For the extinction of slavery he would wait; for a 
decision on the principle of slavery he would not. It 
was idle to protest against agitation of the question. 
If politicians would be silent that would not get rid 
of " this same mighty deep-seated power that somehow 
operates on the minds of men, exciting them and stir- 
ring them up in every avenue of society — in politics, in 
religion, in literature, in morals, in all the manifold 
relations of life." The stand, temperate as it was, that 
he advocated against slavery should be taken at once 
and finally. The difference, of which people grown 
accustomed to slavery among their neighbours thought 
little, between letting it be in Missouri, which they could 
not help, and letting it cross the border into Kansas, 
which they could help, appeared to Lincoln the whole 
tremendous gulf between right and wrong, between a 
wise people's patience with ills they could not cure and 
a profligate people's acceptance of evil as their good. 
And here there was a distinction between Lincoln and 
many Republicans, which again may seem subtle, but 
which was really far wider than that which separated 
him from the Abolitionists. Slavery must be stopped 
from spreading into Kansas not because, as it turned out, 
the immigrants into Kansas mostly did not want it, but 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 129 

because it was wrong, and the United States, wheue they 
were free to act, would not have it. The greatest evil 
in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was the laxity 
of public tone which had made it possible. " Little by 
little, but steadily as man's march to the grave, we 
have been giving up the old faith for the new faith." 
Formerly some deference to the " central idea n of 
equality was general and in some sort of abstract sense 
slavery was admitted to be wrong. Now it was boldly 
claimed by the South that " slavery in the abstract was 
right" All the most powerful influences in the coun- 
try, u Mammon " (for " the slave property is worth a 
billion dollars "), " fashion, philosophy," and even "the 
theology of the day," were enlisted in favour of this 
opinion. And it met with no resistance. " You your- 
self may detest slavery; but your neighbour has five or 
six slaves, and he is an excellent neighbour, or your son 
has married his daughter, and they beg you to help 
save their property, and you vote against your interests 
and principle to oblige a neighbour, hoping your vote 
will be on the losing side." And again " the party lash 
and the fear of ridicule will overawe justice and liberty; 
for it is a singular fact, but none the less a fact and 
well known by the most common experience, that men 
will do things under the terror of the party lash that 
they would not on any account or for any consideration 
do otherwise; while men, who will march up to the 
mouth of a loaded cannon without shrinking, will run 
from the terrible name of ' Abolitionist,' even when pro- 
nounced by a worthless creature whom they with good 
reason despise." And so people in the North, who 
could hardly stomach the doctrine that slavery was good, 
yet lapsed into the feeling that it was a thing indifferent, 
a thing for which they might rightly shuffle off their 
responsibility on to the immigrants into Kansas. This 
feeling that it was indifferent Lincoln pursued and 
chastised with special scorn. But the principle of free- 
dom that they were surrendering was the principle of 
freedom for themselves as well as for the negro. The 



130 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

sense of the negro's rights had been allowed to go back 
till the prospect of emancipation for him looked im- 
measurably worse than it had a generation before. They 
must recognise that when, by their connivance, they had 
barred and bolted the door upon the negro, the spirit of 
tyranny which they had evoked would then " turn and 
rend them." The u central idea " which had now estab- 
lished itself in the intellect of the Southern was one 
which favoured the enslavement of man by man " apart 
from colour." A definite choice had to be made between 
the principle of the fathers, which asserted certain rights 
for all men, and that other principle against which the 
fathers had rebelled and of which the u divine right of 
kings " furnished Lincoln with his example. In what 
particular manner the white people would be made to 
feel the principle of tyranny when they had definitely 
" denied freedom to others " and ceased to " deserve it 
for themselves " Lincoln did not attempt to say, and 
perhaps only dimly imagined. But he was as convinced 
as any prophet that America stood at the parting of the 
ways and must choose now the right principle or the 
wrong with all its consequences. 

The principle of tyranny presented itself for their 
choice in a specious form in Douglas' " great patent, 
everlasting principle of ' popular sovereignty.' " This 
alleged principle was likely, so to say, to take upon their 
blind side men who were sympathetic to the impatience 
of control of any crowd resembling themselves but not 
sympathetic to humanity of another race and colour. The 
claim to some divine and indefeasible right of sovereignty 
overriding all other considerations of the general good, 
on the part of a majority greater or smaller at any given 
time in any given area, is one which can generally be made 
to bear a liberal semblance, though it certainly has no 
necessary validity. Americans had never before thought 
of granting it in the case of their outlying and unsettled 
dominions; they would never, for instance, as Lincoln 
remarked, have admitted the claim of settlers like the 
Mormons to make polygamy lawful in the territory they 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 131 

occupied. In the manner in which it was now employed 
the proposed principle could, as Lincoln contended, be 
reduced to this simple form " that, if one man chooses 
to enslave another, no third man shall have the right to 
object." 

It is impossible to estimate how far Lincoln foresaw 
the strain to which a firm stand against slavery would 
subject the Union. It is likely enough that those worst 
forebodings for the Union, which events proved to be 
very true, were confined to timid men who made a prac- 
tice of yielding to threats. Lincoln appreciated better 
than many of his fellows the sentiment of the South, but 
it is often hard for men, not in immediate contact with a 
school of thought which seems to them thoroughly per- 
verse, to appreciate its pervasive power, and Lincoln was 
inclined to stake much upon the hope that reason will pre- 
vail. Moreover, he had a confidence in the strength of 
the Union which might have been justified if his prede- 
cessor in office had been a man of ordinary firmness. 
But it is not to be supposed that any undue hopefulness, 
if he felt it, influenced his judgment. He was of a temper 
which does not seek to forecast what the future has to 
show, and his melancholy prepared him well for any evil 
that might come. Two things we can say with certainty 
of his aim and purpose. On the one hand, as has already 
been said, whatever view he had taken of the peril to 
the Union he would never have sought to avoid the peril 
by what appeared to him a surrender of the principle 
which gave the Union its worth. On the other hand, 
he must always have been prepared to uphold the Union 
at whatever the cost might prove to be. To a man of 
deep and gentle nature war will always be hateful, but 
it can never, any more than an individual death, appear 
the worst of evils. And the claim of the Southern States 
to separate from a community which to him was venerable 
and to form a new nation, based on slavery and bound 
to live in discord with its neighbors, did not appeal to 
him at all, though in a certain literal sense it was a claim 
to liberty. His attitude to any possible movement for 



132 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

secession was defined four years at least before secession 
came, in words such as it was not his habit to use without 
full sense of their possible effect or without much pre- 
vious thought. They were quite simple : u We won't 
break up the Union, and you shan't." 

Such were the main thoughts which would be found 
to animate the whole of Lincoln's notable campaign, 
beginning with his first encounter with Douglas in 1855 
and culminating in his prolonged duel with him in the 
autumn of 1858. It is unnecessary here to follow the 
complexities, especially in regard to the Dred Scott judg- 
ments, through which the discussion wandered. It is 
now worth few men's while to do more than glance at 
two or three of his speeches at that period; his speeches 
in the formal Lincoln-Douglas debates, except the first, 
are not the best of them. A scientific student of rhetoric, 
as the art by which man do actually persuade crowds, 
might indeed do well to watch closely the use by Douglas 
and Lincoln of their respective weapons, but for 
most of us it is an unprofitable business to read reiterated 
argument, even though in beautiful language, upon points 
of doubt that no longer trouble us. Lincoln does not 
always show to advantage ; later readers have found him 
inferior in urbanity to Douglas, of whom he disapproved, 
while Douglas probably disapproved of no man; his 
speeches are, of course, not free either from unsound 
arguments or from the rough and tumble of popular de- 
bate; occasionally he uses hackneyed phrases; but it is 
remarkable that a hackneyed or a falsely sentimental 
phrase in Lincoln comes always as a lapse and a surprise. 
Passages abound in these speeches which to almost any 
literate taste are arresting for the simple beauty of their 
English, a beauty characteristic of one who had learned 
to reason with Euclid and learned to feel and to speak 
with the authors of the Bible. And in their own kind 
they were a classic and probably unsurpassed achievement. 
Though Lincoln had to deal with a single issue demanding 
no great width of knowledge, it must be evident that the 
passions aroused by it and the confused and shifting 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 133 

state of public sentiment made his problem very subtle, 
and it was a rare profundity and sincerity of thought 
which solved it in his own mind. In expressing the result 
of thought so far deeper than that of most men, he 
achieved a clearness of expression which very few writers, 
and those among the greatest, have excelled. He once 
during the Presidential election of 1856 wrote to a sup- 
porter of Fillmore to persuade him of a proposition which 
must seem paradoxical to anyone not deeply versed in 
American institutions, namely, that it was actually against 
Fillmore's interest to gain votes from Fremont in Illinois. 
He demonstrated his point, but he was not always judi- 
cious in his way of addressing solemn strangers, and 
in his rural manner he concludes his letter, " the whole 
thing is as simple as figuring out the weight of three small 
hogs," and this inelegant sentence conveys with little 
exaggeration one especial merit of his often austerely 
graceful language. Grave difficulties are handled in a 
style which could arouse all the interest of a boy 
and penetrate the understanding of a case-hardened 
party man. 

But if in comparison with the acknowledged master- 
pieces of our prose we rank many passages in these 
speeches very high — and in fact the men who have appre- 
ciated them most highly have been fastidious scholars — 1 
we shall not yet have measured Lincoln's effort and 
performance. For these are not the compositions of a 
cloistered man of letters, they are the outpourings of 
an agitator upon the stump. The men who think hard 
are few; few of them can clothe their thought in apt and 
simple words; very, very few are those who in doing 
this could hold the attention of a miscellaneous and large 
crowd. Popular government owes that comparative fail- 
ure, of which in recent times we have taken perhaps 
exaggerated notice, partly to the blindness of the polite 
world to the true difficulty and true value of work of this 
kind; and the importance which Roman education under 
the Empire gave to rhetoric was the mark not of dead- 
ness, but of the survival of a manly public spirit. Lin- 



134 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

coin's wisdom had to utter itself in a voice which would 
reach the outskirts of a large and sometimes excited 
crowd in the open air. It was uttered in strenuous con- 
flict with a man whose reputation quite overshadowed 
his; a person whose extraordinary and good-humoured 
vitality armed him with an external charm even for 
people who, like Mrs. Beecher Stowe, detested his prin- 
ciples; an orator whose mastery of popular appeal and 
of resourceful and evasive debate was quite unhampered 
by any weakness for the truth. The utterance had to be 
kept up day after day and night after night for a quarter 
of a year, by a man too poor to afford little comforts, 
travelling from one crowded inn to another, by slow 
trains on a railway whose officials paid little attention to 
him, while his more prosperous and distinguished rival 
could travel in comfort and comparative magnificence. 
The physical strain of electioneering, which is always 
considerable, its alternation of feverish excitement with 
a lassitude that, after a while, becomes prevailing and 
intense, were in this case far greater and more prolonged 
than in any other instance recorded of English or prob- 
ably of American statesmen. If, upon his sudden eleva- 
tion shortly afterwards, Lincoln was in a sense an obscure 
man raised up by chance, he was nevertheless a man who 
had accomplished a heroic labour. 

On the whole the earthen vessel in which he carried 
his treasure of clear thought and clean feelings appears 
to have enhanced its flavour. There was at any rate 
nothing outward about him that aroused the passion of 
envy. A few peculiarly observant men were immediately 
impressed with his distinction, but there is no doubt that 
to the ordinary stranger he appeared as a very odd fish. 
" No portraits that I have ever seen," writes one, " do 
justice to the awkwardness and ungainliness of his figure." 
Its movements when he began to speak rather added 
to its ungainliness, and, though to a trained actor his 
elocution seemed perfect, his voice when he first opened 
his mouth surprised and jarred upon the hearers with a 
harsh note of curiously high pitch. But it was the sort 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 135 

of oddity that arrests attention, and people's attention 
once caught was apt to be held by the man's transparent 
earnestness. Soon, as he lost thought of himself in his 
subject, his voice and manner changed; deeper notes, of 
which friends record the beauty, rang out, the sad eyes 
kindled, and the tall, gaunt figure, with the strange gesture 
of the long, uplifted arms, acquired even a certain 
majesty. Hearers recalled afterwards with evident sin- 
cerity the deep and instantaneous impression of some 
appeal to simple conscience, as when, " reaching his hands 
towards the stars of that still night," he proclaimed, 
" in some things she is certainly not my equal, but in 
her natural right to eat the bread that she has earned 
with the sweat of her brow, she is my equal, and the 
equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of any man." 
Indeed, upon a sympathetic audience, already excited by 
the occasion, he could produce an effect which the reader 
of his recorded speeches would hardly believe. Of his 
speech at an early state convention of the Republican 
party there is no report except that after a few sentences 
every reporter laid down his pen for the opposite of the 
usual reason, and, as he proceeded, " the audience arose 
from their chairs and with pale faces and quivering lips 
pressed unconsciously towards him." And of his speech 
on another similar occasion several witnesses seem to 
have left descriptions hardly less incongruous with Eng- 
lish experience of public meetings. If we credit him with 
these occasional manifestations of electric oratory — as 
to which it is certain that his quiet temperament did at 
times blaze out in a surprising fashion — it is not to be 
thought that he was ordinarily what could be called elo- 
quent; some of his speeches are commonplace enough, 
and much of his debating with Douglas is of a drily 
argumentative kind that does honour to the mass meet- 
ings which heard it gladly. But the greatest gift of the 
orator he did possess; the personality behind the words 
was felt. " Beyond and above all skill," says the editor 
of a great paper who heard him at Peoria, " was the over- 
whelming conviction imposed upon the audience that the 



136 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

speaker himself was charged with an irresistible and 
inspiring duty to his fellow men." 

One fact about the method of his speaking is easily 
detected. In debate, at least, he had no use for perora- 
tions, and the reader who looks for them will often 
find that Lincoln just used up the last few minutes in 
clearing up some unimportant point which he wanted to 
explain only if there was time for it. We associate our 
older Parliamentary oratory with an art which keeps 
the hearer pleasedly expectant rather than dangerously 
attentive, through an argument which if dwelt upon might 
prove unsubstantial, secure that it all leads in the end 
to some great cadence of noble sound. But in Lincoln's 
argumentative speeches the employment of beautiful 
words is least sparing at the beginning or when he passes 
to a new subject. It seems as if he deliberately used 
up his rhetorical effects at the outset to put his audience 
in the temper in which they would earnestly follow him 
and to challenge their full attention to reasoning which 
was to satisfy their calmer judgment. He put himself 
in a position in which if his argument were not sound 
nothing could save his speech from failure as a speech. 
Perhaps no standing epithet of praise hangs with such 
a weight on a man's reputation as the epithet " honest." 
When the man is proved not to be a fraud, it suggests 
a very mediocre virtue. But the method by which Lincoln 
actually confirmed his early won and dangerous reputation 
of honesty was a positive and potent performance of 
rare distinction. It is no mean intellectual and spiritual 
achievement to be as honest in speech with a crowd as 
in the dearest intercourse of life. It is not, of course, 
pretended that he never used a fallacious argument or 
made an unfair score — he was entirely human. But this 
is the testimony of an Illinois political wire-puller to 
Lincoln : " He was one of the shrewdest politicians in 
the State. Nobody haci more experience in that way. 
Nobody knew better what was passing in the minds of 
the people. Nobody knew better how to turn things to 
advantage politically." And then he goes on — and this 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 137 

is really the sum of what is to be said of his oratory: 
" He could not cheat people out of their votes any more 
than he could out of their money." 

3. Lincoln against Douglas. 

It has now to be told how the contest with Douglas 
which concluded Lincoln's labours in Illinois affected the 
broad stream of political events in America as a whole. 
Lincoln, as we know, was still only a local personage; 
Illinois is a State bigger than Ireland, but it is only a 
little part and was still a rather raw and provincial part 
of the United States; but Douglas had for years been 
a national personage, for a time the greatest man among 
the Democrats, and now, for a reason which did him 
honour, he was in disgrace with many of his party and 
on the point of becoming the hero of all moderate 
Republicans. 

We need not follow in much detail the events of the 
great political world. The repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise threw it into a ferment, which the continuing 
disorders in Kansas were in themselves sufficient to keep 
up. New great names were being made in debate in 
the Senate; Seward, the most powerful opponent of the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, kept his place as 
the foremost man in the Republican party not by con- 
sistency in the stand that he made, but by his mastery 
of New York political machinery; Sumner of Massachu- 
setts, the friend of John Bright, kept up a continual pro- 
test for freedom in turgid, scholarly harangues, which 
caught the spirit of Cicero's Philippics most successfully 
in their personal offensiveness. Powerful voices in litera-* 
ture and the Press were heard upon the same side — the 
New York Tribune, edited by Horace Greeley, acquired, 
as far as a paper in so large a country can, a national 
importance. Broadly it may be said that the stirring 
intellect of America old and young was with the Repub- 
licans — it is a pleasant trifle to note that Longfellow 
gave up a visit to Europe to vote for Fremont as Presi- 



138 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

dent, and we know the views of Motley and of Lowell 
and of Darwin's fellow labourer Asa Gray. But fashion 
and that better and quite different influence, the tone of 
opinion prevailing in the pleasantest society, inclined 
always to the Southern view of every question, and these 
influences were nowhere more felt than among Washing- 
ton politicians. A strong and respectable group of South- 
ern Senators, of whom Jefferson Davis was the strongest, 
were the real driving power of the administration. Con- 
vivial President Pierce and doting President Buchanan 
after him were complaisant to their least scrupulous sug- 
gestions in a degree hardly credible of honourable men 
who were not themselves Southerners. 

One famous incident of life in Congress must be told 
to explain the temper of the times. In 1856, during one 
of the many debates that arose out of Kansas, Sumner 
recited in the Senate a speech conscientiously calculated 
to sting the slave-owning Senators to madness. Sumner 
was a man with brains and with courage and rectitude 
beyond praise, set off by a powerful and noble frame, 
but he lacked every minor quality of greatness. He 
would not call his opponent in debate a skunk, but he 
would expend great verbal ingenuity in coupling his name 
with repeated references to that animal's attributes. On 
this occasion he used to the full both the finer and the 
most exquisitely tasteless qualities of his eloquence. This 
sort of thing passed the censorship of many excellent 
Northern men who would lament Lincoln's lack of refine- 
ment; and though from first to last the serious provocation 
in their disputes lay in the set policy of the Southern 
leaders, it ought to be realised that they, men who for 
the most part were quite kind to their slaves and had 
long ago argued themselves out of any compunction about 
slavery, were often exposed to intense verbal provocation. 
Nevertheless, what followed on Sumner's speech is ter- 
ribly significant of the depravation of Southern honour. 

Congressman Preston Brooks, of South Carolina, had 
an uncle in the Senate; South Carolina, and this Senator 
in particular, had been specially favoured with self-right- 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 139 

eous insolence in Sumner's speech. A day or so later the 
Senate had just risen and Sumner sat writing at his desk 
in the Senate chamber in a position in which he could not 
quickly rise. Brooks walked in, burning with piety 
towards his State and his uncle, and in the presence, it 
seems, of Southern Senators who could have stopped 
him, beat Sumner on the head with a stick with all his 
might. Sumner was incapacitated by injuries to his spine 
for nearly five years. Brooks, with a virtuous air, ex- 
plained in Congress that he had caught Sumner in a 
helpless attitude because if Sumner had been free to 
use his superior strength he, Brooks, would have had 
to shoot him with his revolver. It seems to be hardly an 
exaggeration to say that the whole South applauded 
Brooks and exulted. Exuberant Southerners took to 
challenging Northern men, knowing well that their prin- 
ciples compelled them to refuse duels, but that the refusal 
would still be humiliating to the North. Brooks himself 
challenged Burlingame, a distinguished Congressman aft- 
erwards sent by Lincoln as Minister to China, who had 
denounced him. Burlingame accepted, and his second 
arranged for a rifle duel at a wild spot across the frontier 
at Niagara. Brooks then drew back; he alleged, perhaps 
sincerely, that he would have been murdered on his way 
through the Northern States, but Northern people were 
a little solaced. The whole disgusting story contains only 
one pleasant incident. Preston Brooks, who, after num- 
bers of congratulations, testimonials, and presentations, 
died within a year of his famous exploit, had first con- 
fessed himself tired of being a hero to every vulgar bully 
in the South! 

Now, though this dangerous temper burned steadily in 
the South, and there were always sturdy Republicans 
ready to provoke it, and questions arising out of slavery 
would constantly recur to disturb high political circles, it 
is not to be imagined that opinion in the North, the grow- 
ing and bustling portion of the States, would remain for 
years excited about the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise. In 1857 men's minds were agitated by a great 



i 4 o ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

commercial depression and collapse of credit, and in 1858 
there took place one of the most curious (for it would 
seem to have deserved this cold description) of evanescent 
religious revivals. Meanwhile, by 1857 the actual blood- 
shed in Kansas had come to an end under the administra- 
tion of an able Governor; the enormous majority of set- 
tlers in Kansas were now known to be against slavery and 
it was probably assumed that the legalisation of slavery 
could not be forced upon them. Prohibition of slavery 
there by Congress thus began to seem needless, and the 
Dred Scott judgments raised at least a grave doubt as 
to whether it was possible. Thus enthusiasm for the 
original platform of the Republicans was cooling down, 
and to the further embarrassment of that party, when 
towards the end of 1857 the Southern leaders attempted 
a legislative outrage, the great champion of the Northern 
protest was not a Republican, but Douglas himself. 

A Convention had been elected in Kansas to frame a 
State Constitution. It represented only a fraction of the 
people, since, for some reason good or bad, the opponents 
of slavery did not vote in the election. But it was under- 
stood that whatever Constitution was framed would be 
submitted to the popular vote. The Convention framed 
a Constitution legalising slavery, and its proposals came 
before Congress backed by the influence of Buchanan, 
Under them the people of Kansas were to vote whether 
they would have this Constitution as it stood, or have it 
with the legalisation of slavery restricted to the slaves 
who had then been brought into the territory. No oppor- 
tunity was to be given them of rejecting the Constitution 
altogether, though Governor Walker, himself in favor 
of slavery, assured the President that they wished to do 
so. Ultimately, by way of concession to vehement resist- 
ance, the majority in Congress passed an Act under which 
the people in Kansas were to vote simply for or against 
the slavery Constitution as it stood, only — if they voted 
for it, they as a State were to be rewarded with a large 
grant of public lands belonging to the Union in their 
territory. Eventually the Kansas people, unmoved by 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 141 

this bribe, rejected the Constitution by a majority of 
more than 11,000 to 1,800. Now, the Southern leaders, 
three years before, had eagerly joined with Douglas to 
claim a right of free choice for the Kansas people. The 
shamelessness of this attempt to trick them out of it is 
more significant even than the tale of Preston Brooks. 
There was no hot blood there; the affair was quietly 
plotted by respected leaders of the South. They were 
men in many ways of character and honour, understood 
by weak men like Buchanan to represent the best tradi- 
tions of American public life. But, as they showed also 
in other instances that cannot be related here, slavery 
had become for them a sacred cause which hallowed 
almost any means. It is essential to remember this in 
trying to understand the then political situation. 

Douglas here behaved very honourably. He, with his 
cause of popular sovereignty, could not have afforded to 
identify himself with the fraud on Kansas, but he was 
a good enough trickster to have made his protest safely 
if he had cared to do so. As it was he braved the hatred 
of Buchanan and the fury of his Southern friends by 
instant, manly, courageous, and continued opposition. It 
may therefore seem an ungracious thing that, immediately 
after this, Lincoln should have accepted the invitation of 
his friends to oppose Douglas' re-election. To most of 
the leading Republicans out of Illinois it seemed altogether 
unwise and undesirable that their party, which had seemed 
to be losing ground, should do anything but welcome 
Douglas as an ally. Of these Seward indeed went too 
far for his friends, and in his sanguine hope that it would 
work for freedom was ready to submit to the doctrine 
of " popular sovereignty " ; but, except the austere Chase, 
now Governor of Ohio, who this once, but unfortunately 
not again, was whole-heartedly with Lincoln, the Repub- 
lican leaders in the East, and great Republican journals, 
like the Tribune, declared their wish that Douglas 
should be re-elected. Why, then, did Lincoln stand 
against him? 

It has often been suggested that his personal feelings 



i 4 2 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

towards Douglas played some part in the matter, 
though no one thinks they played the chief part. Prob- 
ably they did play a part, and it is a relief to think that 
Lincoln thoroughly gratified some minor feelings in this 
contest. Lincoln no doubt enjoyed measuring himself 
against other men; and it was galling to his ambition to 
have been so completely outstripped by a man inferior 
to him in every power except that of rapid success. He 
had also the deepest distrust for Douglas as a politician, 
thinking that he had neither principle nor scruple, though 
Herndon, who knew, declares he neither distrusted nor 
had cause to distrust Douglas in his professional dealings 
as a lawyer. He had, by the way, one definite, if trifling, 
score to wipe off. After their joint debate at Peoria in 
1855 Douglas, finding him hard to tackle, suggested to 
Lincoln that they should both undertake to make no more 
speeches for the present. Lincoln oddly assented at once, 
perhaps for no better reason than a ridiculous difficulty, 
to which he once confessed, in refusing any request what/- 
ever. Lincoln of course had kept this agreement strictly, 
while Douglas had availed himself of the first temptation 
to break it. Thus on all grounds we may be sure that 
Lincoln took pleasure in now opposing Douglas. But to 
go further and say that the two men cordially hated each 
other is probably to misread both. There is no necessary 
connection between a keen desire to beat a man and any 
sort of malignity towards him. That much at least may 
be learned in English schools, and the whole history of 
his dealing with men shows that in some school or other 
Lincoln had learned it very thoroughly. Douglas, too, 
though an unscrupulous, was not, we may guess, an ungen- 
erous man. 

But the main fact of the matter is that Lincoln would 
have turned traitor to his rooted convictions if he had 
not stood up and fought Douglas even at this moment 
when Douglas was deserving of some sympathy. 
Douglas, it must be observed, had simply acted on his 
principle that the question between slavery and freedom 
was to be settled by local, popular choice; he claimed 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 143 

for the white men of Kansas the fair opportunity of 
voting; given that, he persistently declared, " I do not 
care whether slavery be voted up or voted down." In 
Lincoln's settled opinion this moral attitude of indifference 
to the wrongfulness of slavery, so long as respect was 
had to the liberties of the privileged race, was, so to say, 
treason to the basic principle of the American Common- 
wealth, a treason which had steadily been becoming rife 
and upon which it was time to stamp. 

There can be no doubt of his earnestness about this. 
But the Republican leaders, honourably enough, regarded 
this as an unpractical line to take, and indeed to the 
political historian this is the most crucial question in 
American history. Nobody can say that civil war would 
or would not have occurred if this or that had been done 
a little differently, but Abraham Lincoln, at this crisis 
of his life, did, in pursuance of his peculiarly cherished 
principle, forge at least a link in the chain of events whic^ 
actually precipitated the war. And he did it knowing 
better than any other man that he was doing something 
of great national importance, involving at least great 
national risk. Was he pursuing his principles, moderate 
as they were in the original conception, with fanaticism, 
or at the best preferring a solemn consistency of theory 
to the conscientious handling of facts not reducible to 
theory? As a question of practical statesmanship in the 
largest sense, how did matters really stand in regard to 
slavery and to the relations between South and North, 
and what was Lincoln's idea of " putting slavery back 
where the fathers placed it " really worth? 

Herndon in these days went East to try to enlist the 
support of the great men for Lincoln. He found them 
friendly but immovable. Editor Horace Greeley said 
to him: " The Republican standard is too high; we want 
something practical." This, we may be pretty sure, stiff- 
ened Lincoln's back, as a man with a cause that he cared 
for, and, for that matter, as a really shrewd manager 
in a party which he thought stood for something. It 
reveals the flabbiness which the Northerners were in 



144 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

danger of making a governing tradition of policy. The 
wrongfulness of any extension of slavery might be loudly 
asserted in 1854, but in 1858, when it no longer looked 
as if so great an extension of it was really imminent, there 
was no harm in shifting towards some less provocative 
principle on which more people at the moment might 
agree. Confronted with Northern politicians who would 
reason in this fashion stood a united South whose leaders 
were by now accustomed to make the Union Government 
go which way they chose and had no sort of disposition 
to compromise their principle in the least. " What," 
as Lincoln put it in an address given, not long after his 
contest with Douglas, at the Cooper Institute in New 
York, "what do you think will content the South?" 
" Nothing," he answered, " but an acknowledgment that 
slavery is right." " Holding as they do that slavery is 
morally right and socially elevating, they cannot cease to 
demand a full national recognition of it, as a legal right 
and a social blessing. Nor can we justifiably withhold this 
on any ground save our conviction that slavery is wrong." 
That being so, there was no use, he said, in " groping 
about for some middle ground between right and wrong," 
or in " a policy of ' don't care ' on a question about which 
all true men do care." And there is ample evidence 
that he understood rightly the policy of the South. It is 
very doubtful whether any large extension of cultivation 
by slave labour was economically possible in Kansas or 
in regions yet further North, but we have seen to what 
lengths the Southern leaders would go in the attempt to 
secure even a limited recognition of slavery as lawful 
in a new State. They were not succeeding in the business 
of the Kansas Constitution. But they had a very good 
prospect of a far more important success. The cele- 
brated dicta of Chief Justice Taney and other judges 
in the Dred Scott case had not amounted to an actual 
decision, nor if they had would a single decision have 
been irreversible. Whether the principle of them should 
become fixed in American Constitutional law depended 
(though this could not be openly said) on whether future 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 145^ 

appointments to the Supreme Court were to be made by 
a President who shared Taney's views; whether the 
executive action of the President was governed by the 
same views; and on the subtle pressure which outside 
opinion does exercise, and in this case had surely exercised, 
upon judicial minds. If the simple principle that the right 
to a slave is just one form of the ordinary right to prop- 
erty once became firmly fixed in American jurisprudence 
it is hard to see how any laws prohibiting slavery could 
have continued to be held constitutional except in States 
which were free States when the Constitution was 
adopted. Of course, a State like New York where slaves 
were industrially useless would not therefore have been 
filled with slave plantations, but, among a loyally minded 
people, the tradition which reprobated slavery would 
have been greatly weakened. The South would have been 
freed from the sense that slavery was a doomed institu- 
tion. If attempts to plant slavery further in the West 
with profit failed, there was Cuba and there was Central 
America, on which filibustering raids already found 
favour in the South, and in which the national Govern- 
ment might be led to adopt schemes of conquest or annex- 
ation. Moreover, it was avowed by leaders like Jefferson 
Davis that though it might be impracticable to hope for 
the repeal of the prohibition of the slave trade, at least 
some relaxation of its severity ought to be striven for, 
in the interest of Texas and New Mexico and of possible 
future Territories where there might be room for more 
slaves. Such were the views of the leaders whose influ- 
ence preponderated with the present President and in 
the main with the present Congress. When Lincoln 
judged that a determined stand against their policy was 
required, and further that no such stand could be possible 
to a party which had embraced Douglas with his prin- 
ciple, " I care not whether slavery be voted up or voted 
down," there is no doubt now that he was right and the 
great body of Republican authority opposed to him 
wrong. 

When Lincoln and his friends in Illinois determined 



146 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

to fight Douglas, it became impossible for the Repub- 
lican party as a whole to fall far behind them. This 
was in itself at that crisis an important thing. Lincoln 
added greatly to its importance by the opening words in 
the first speech of his campaign. They were the most 
carefully prepared words that he had yet spoken, and 
the most momentous that he had spoken till now or 
perhaps ever spoke. There is nothing in them for which 
what has been said of the situation and of his views 
will not have prepared us, and nothing which thousands 
of men might not have said to one another in private 
for a year or two before. But the first public avowal 
by a responsible man in trenchant phrase, that a grave 
issue has been joined upon which one party or the other 
must accept entire defeat, may be an event of great and 
perilous consequence. 

He said: " If we could first know where we are and 
whither we are tending, we could better judge what to 
do and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year 
since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and 
confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. 
Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has 
not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In 
my opinion it will not cease until a crisis shall have 
been reached and passed. > A house divided against itself 
cannot stand.' I believe this Government cannot endure 
permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect 
the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to 
fall — but I do expect that it will cease to be divided. It 
will become all one thing or all the other. Either the 
opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it 
and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief 
that it is in course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates 
will push it forward till it shall become lawful alike in 
all the States, old as well as new — North as well as 
South." 

It may perhaps be said that American public opinion 
has in the past been very timid in facing clear-cut issues. 
But, as has already been observed, an apt phrase crystal- 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 147 

lising the unspoken thought of many is even more readily 
caught up in America than anywhere else; so, though 
but few people in States at a distance paid much attention 
to the rest of the debates, or for a while again to Lincoln, 
the comparison of the house divided against itself pro- 
duced an effect in the country which did not wear out. 
In this whole passage, moreover, Lincoln had certainly 
formulated the question before the nation more boldly, 
more clearly, more truly than any one before. It is impos- 
sible to estimate such influences precisely, but this was 
among the speeches that rank as important actions, and 
the story, most characteristic of the speaker, which lay 
behind it, is worth relating in detail. Lincoln had actually 
in a speech in 1856 declared that the United States could 
not long endure half slave and half free. " What in 
God's name," said some friend after the meeting, " could 
induce you to promulgate such an opinion ?" " Upon 
my soul," he said, " I think it is true," and he could not 
be argued out of this opinion. Finally the friend pro- 
tested that, true or not, no good could come of spreading 
this opinion abroad, and after grave reflection Lincoln 
promised not to utter it again for the present. Now, in 
1858, having prepared his speech he read it to Herndon. 
Herndon questioned whether the passage on the divided 
house was politic. Lincoln said : " I would rather be 
defeated with this expression in my speech, and uphold 
and discuss it before the people, than be victorious with- 
out it." Once more, just before he delivered it, he read 
it over to a dozen or so of his closest supporters, for it 
was his way to discuss his intentions fully with friends, 
sometimes accepting their advice most submissively and 
sometimes disregarding it wholly. One said it was 
' ahead of its time," another that it was a " damned 
fool utterance." All more or less strongly condemned 
it, except this time Herndon, who, according to his 
recollection, said, " It will make you President." He 
listened to all and then addressed them, we are told, sub- 
stantially as follows : " Friends, this thing has been re- 
tarded long enough. The time has come when these 



148 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

sentiments should be uttered; and if it is decreed that I 
should go down because of this speech, then let me go 
down linked to the truth — let me die in the advocacy of 
what is just and right." Rather a memorable pronounce- 
ment of a candidate to his committee ; and the man who 
records it is insistent upon every little illustration he can 
find both of Lincoln's cunning and of his ambition. 

Lincoln did go down in this particular contest. Many 
friends wrote and reproved him after this " damned 
fool utterance," but his defeat was not, after all, attrib- 
uted to that. All the same he did himself assure his 
defeat, and he did it with extraordinary skill, for the 
purpose of ensuring that the next President should be a 
Republican President, though it is impossible he should 
at that time have counted upon being himself that Repub- 
lican. Each candidate had undertaken to answer set 
questions which his opponent might propound to him. 
And great public attention was paid to the answers to 
these interrogatories. The Dred Scott judgments created 
a great difficulty for Douglas; he was bound to treat 
them as right; but if they were right and Congress had 
no power to prohibit slavery in a Territory, neither could 
a Territorial Legislature with authority delegated by 
Congress have that power; and, if this were made clear, 
it would seem there was an end of that free choice of 
the people in the Territories of which Douglas had been 
the great advocate. Douglas would use all his evasive 
skill in keeping away from this difficult point. If, how- 
ever, he could be forced to face it Lincoln knew what 
he would say. He would say that slavery would not be 
actually unlawful in a Territory, but would never actually 
exist in it if the Territorial Legislature chose to abstain, 
as it could, from passing any of the laws which would 
in practice be necessary to protect slave property. By 
advocating this view Douglas would fully reassure those 
of his former supporters in Illinois who puzzled them- 
selves on the Dred Scott case, but he would infuriate the 
South. Lincoln determined to force Douglas into this 
position by the questions which he challenged him to 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 149 

answer. When he told his friends of his ambition, they 
all told him he would lose his election. " Gentlemen," 
said Lincoln, "I am killing larger game; if Douglas 
answers, he can never be President, and the battle of 
1 860 is worth a hundred of this." The South was already 
angry with Douglas for his action over the Kansas Con- 
stitution, but he would have been an invincible candidate 
for the South to support in i860, and it must have told 
in his favour that his offence then had been one of plain 
honesty. But in this fresh offence the Southern leaders 
had some cause to accuse him of double dealing, and they 
swore he should not be President. 

A majority of the new Illinois Legislature returned 
Douglas to the Senate. Lincoln, however, had an actual 
majority of the votes of the whole State. Probably also 
he had gained a hold on Illinois for the future out of 
all proportion to the actual number of votes then given 
against the popular Douglas, and above all he had gath- 
ered to him a band of supporters who had unbounded 
belief in him. But his fall for the moment was little 
noticed or regretted outside Illinois, or at any rate in the 
great Eastern States, to which Illinois was, so to speak, 
the provinces and he a provincial attorney. His first 
words in the campaign had made a stir, but the rest of 
his speeches in these long debates could not be much 
noticed at a distance. Douglas had won, and the pre- 
sumption was that he had proved himself the better man. 
Lincoln had performed what, apart from results, was a 
work of intellectual merit beyond the compass of any 
American statesman since Hamilton; moreover, as can 
now be seen, there had been great results; for, first, the 
young Republican party had not capitulated and collapsed, 
and, then, the great Democratic party, established in 
power, in indifference, and in complicity with wrong, was 
split clean in two. But these were not results that could 
be read yet awhile in election figures. Meanwhile the 
exhausted Lincoln reconciled himself for the moment to 
failure. As a private man he was thoroughly content 
that he could soon work off his debt for his election 



150 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

expenses, could earn about £500 a year, and be secure 
in the possession of the little house and the £2,000 capital 
which was " as much as any man ought to have." As a 
public man he was sadly proud that he had at least " said 
some words which may bear fruit after I am forgotten." 
Persistent melancholy and incurable elasticity can go to- 
gether, and they make a very strong combination. The 
tone of resignation had not passed away from his com- 
paratively intimate letters when he was writing little 
notes to one political acquaintance and another inciting 
them to look forward to the fun of the next fight. 

4. John Brown, 

For the next few months the excitements of the great 
political world concern this biography little. There was 
strife between Davis and Douglas in the Senate. At a 
meeting strong against slavery, Seward regained courage 
from the occasion and roused the North with grave and 
earnest words about the " irrepressible conflict." The 
" underground railway," or chain of friendly houses by 
which fugitive slaves were stealthily passed on to Canada, 
became famous. Methodist professors riotously at- 
tempted to rescue an arrested fugitive at Oberlin. A 
Southern grand jury threw out the bill of indictment 
against a slave-trading crew caught red-handed. In Cali- 
fornia Democrats belonging to what was nicknamed 
" the chivalry " forced upon Senator Broderick, a literally 
democratic Irishman and the bravest of the Democrats 
who stood out for fair treatment to Kansas, a duel in 
which he might fairly be said to have been murdered. 
The one event which demands more than allusion was 
the raid and the death of John Brown. 

John Brown, in whom Puritan religion, as strict as 
that of his ancestors on the Mayflower, put forth gentler 
beauties of character than his sanguinary mission may 
suggest, had been somewhat of a failure as a scientific 
farmer, but as a leader of fighting men in desperate ad- 
venture only such men as Drake or Garibaldi seem to 
have excelled him. More particularly in the commotions 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 151 

in Kansas he had led forays, slain ruthlessly, witnessed 
dry-eyed the deaths of several of his tall, strong sons, 
and as a rule earned success by cool judgment — all, as 
he was absolutely sure, at the clear call of God. In 
October, 1859 — how and with whose help the stroke was 
prepared seems to be a question of some mystery — John 
Brown, gathering a little band of Abolitionists and 
negroes, invaded the slave States and seized the United 
States arsenal at Harper's Ferry in Virginia. In the 
details, which do not matter, of this tiny campaign, John 
Brown seems, for the first time in his life, to have blun- 
dered badly. This was the only thing that lay upon his 
conscience towards the last. What manner of success 
he can have expected does not appear; most likely he 
had neither care nor definite expectation as to the result. 
The United States troops under Robert Lee, soon to be 
famous, of course overcame him quickly. One of his 
prisoners describes how he held out to the last; a dead 
son beside him; one hand on the pulse of a dying son, his 
rifle in the other. He was captured, desperately wounded. 
Southerners could not believe the fact that Brown had 
not contemplated some hideous uprising of slaves against 
their wives and children, but he only wished to conquer 
them with the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, quietly 
freeing slaves as he went. So naturally there was talk 
of lynching, but the Virginian gentlemen concerned would 
not have that. Governor Wise, of Virginia, had some 
talk with him and justified his own high character rather 
than Brown's by the estimate he gave of him in a speech 
at Richmond. Brown was hanged. " Stonewall " Jack- 
son, a brother fanatic, if that is the word, felt the spectacle 
" awful," as he never felt slaughter in battle, and " put 
up a prayer that if possible Brown might be saved." " So 
perish all foes of the human race," said the officer com- 
manding on the occasion, and the South generally felt 
the like. 

A little before his death Brown was asked: " How do 
you justify your acts? " He said: " I think, my friend, 
you are guilty of a great wrong against God and humanity 



152 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

— I say it without wishing to be offensive — and it would 
be perfectly right for any one to interfere with you so far 
as to free those you wilfully and wickedly hold in bondage. 
I think I did right, and that others will do right who 
interfere with you at any time and at all times. " In a 
conversation still later, he is reported to have concluded: 
" I wish to say furthermore that you had better — all you 
people at the South — prepare yourselves for a settlement 
of this question, that must come up for settlement sooner 
than you are prepared for it. You may dispose of me 
very easily. I am nearly disposed of now. But this ques- 
tion is still to be settled — this negro question I mean. 
The end of that is not yet." To a friend he wrote that 
he rejoiced like Paul because he knew like Paul that " if 
they killed him, it would greatly advance the cause of 
Christ." 

Lincoln, who regarded lawlessness and slavery as twin 
evils, could only say of John Brown's raid: " That affair, 
in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts 
related in history at the assassination of kings and em- 
perors. An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a 
people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven 
to liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends 
in little else than his own execution. Orsini's attempt on 
Louis Napoleon and John Brown's attempt at Harper's 
Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely the same." 
Seward, it must be recorded, spoke far more sympa- 
thetically of him than Lincoln; and far more justly, for 
there is a flaw somewhere in this example, as his chief 
biographer regards it, of " Mr. Lincoln's common-sense 
judgment." John Brown had at least left to every 
healthy-minded Northern boy a memory worth much in 
the coming years of war and, one hopes, ever after. He 
had well deserved to be the subject of a song which, what- 
ever may be its technical merits as literature, does stir. 
Emerson took the same view of him as the song writer, 
and Victor Hugo suggested as an epitaph for him : " Pro 
Christo sicut Christus." A calmer poet, Longfellow, 
wrote in his diary on Friday, December 2, 1859, the day; 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 153 

when Brown was hanged: "This will be a great day in 
our history, the date of a new revolution, quite as much 
needed as the old one. Even now, as I write, they are 
leading old John Brown to execution in Virginia for 
attempting to rescue slaves. This is sowing the wind to 
reap the whirlwind, which will soon come." 

Any one who is interested in Lincoln is almost forced 
to linger over the contrasting though slighter character 
who crossed the stage just before he suddenly took the 
principal part upon it. Men like John Brown may be 
fitly ranked with the equally rare men who, steering a 
very different course, have consistently acted out the 
principles of the Quakers, constraining no man whether 
by violence or by law, yet going into the thick of life 
prepared at all times to risk all. All such men are ab- 
normal in the sense that most men literally could not put 
life through on any similar plan and would be wrong and 
foolish to try. The reason is that most men have a wider 
range of sympathy and of intellect than they. But the 
common sense of most of us revolts from any attitude of 
condemnation or condescension towards them; for they 
are more disinterested than most of us, more single- 
minded, and in their own field often more successful. 
With a very clear conscience we refuse to take example 
from these men whose very defects have operated in them 
as a special call; but undoubtedly most of us regard them 
with a warmth of sympathy which we are slow to accord 
to safer guides. We turn now from John Brown, who 
saw in slavery a great oppression, and was very angry, and 
went ahead slaying the nearest oppressor and liberating 
— for some days at least — the nearest slave, to a patient 
being, who, long ago in his youth, had boiled with anger 
against slavery, but whose whole soul now expressed itself 
in a policy of deadly moderation towards it: " Let us put 
back slavery where the fathers placed it, and there let 
it rest in peace. " We are to study how he acted when 
in power. In almost every department of policy we shall 
see him watching and waiting while blood flows, suspend- 
ing judgment, temporising, making trial of this expedient 



154 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

and of that, adopting in the end, quite unthanked, the 
measure of which most men will say, when it succeeds, 
" That is what we always said should be done." Above 
all, in that point of policy which most interests us, we 
shall witness the long postponement of the blow that 
killed negro slavery, the steady subordination of this 
particular issue to what will not at once appeal to us as a 
larger and a higher issue. All this provoked at the time 
in many excellent and clever men dissatisfaction and deep 
suspicion; they longed for a leader whose heart visibly 
glowed with a sacred passion; they attributed his patience, 
the one quality of greatness which after a while everybody 
might have discerned in him, not to a self-mastery which 
almost passed belief, but to a tepid disposition and a 
mediocre if not a low level of desire. We who read of 
him to-day shall not escape our moments of lively sym- 
pathy with these grumblers of the time; we shall wish 
that this man could ever plunge, that he could ever see 
red, ever commit some passionate injustice; we shall sus- 
pect him of being, in the phrase of a great philosopher, 
" a disgustingly well-regulated person," lacking that in- 
definable quality akin to the honest passions of us ordinary 
men, but deeper and stronger, which alone could compel 
and could reward any true reverence for his memory. 
These moments will recur but they cannot last. A 
thousand little things, apparent on the surface but deeply 
significant; almost every trivial anecdote of his boyhood, 
his prime, or his closing years; his few recorded confi- 
dences; his equally few speeches made under strong emo- 
tion; the lineaments of his face described by observers 
whom photography corroborated; all these absolutely 
forbid any conception of Abraham Lincoln as a worthy 
commonplace person fortunately fitted to the require- 
ments of his office at the moment, or as merely a " good 
man " in the negative and disparaging sense to which that 
term is often wrested. It is really evident that there were 
no frigid perfections about him at all; indeed the weak- 
ness of some parts of his conduct is so unlike what seems 
to be required of a successful ruler that it is certain some 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 155 

almost unexampled quality of heart and mind went to the 
doing of what he did. There is no need to define that 
quality. The general wisdom of his statesmanship will 
perhaps appear greater and its not infrequent errors less 
the more fully the circumstances are appreciated. As to 
the man, perhaps the sense will grow upon us that this 
balanced and calculating person, with his finger on the 
pulse of the electorate while he cracked his uncensored 
jests with all comers, did of set purpose drink and refill 
and drink again as full and fiery a cup of sacrifice as ever 
was pressed to the lips of hero or of saint. 

5. The Election of Lincoln. 

Unlooked-for events were now raising Lincoln to the 
highest place which his ambition could contemplate. His 
own action in the months that followed his defeat by 
Douglas cannot have contributed much to his surprising 
elevation, yet it illustrates well his strength and his weak- 
ness, his real fitness, now and then startlingly revealed, 
for the highest position, and the superficial unfitness which 
long hid his capacity from many acute contemporaries. 

In December, 1859, he made a number of speeches in 
Kansas and elsewhere in the West, and in February, i860, 
he gave a memorable address in the Cooper Institute in 
New York before as consciously intellectual an audience 
as could be collected in that city, proceeding afterwards 
to speak in several cities of New England. His appear- 
ance at the Cooper Institute, in particular, was a critical 
venture, and he knew it. There was natural curiosity 
about this untutored man from the West. An exag- 
gerated report of his wit prepared the way for probable 
disappointment. The surprise which awaited his hearers 
was of a different kind; they were prepared for a florid 
Western eloquence offensive to ears which were used to a 
less spontaneous turgidity; they heard instead a speech 
with no ornament at all, whose only beauty was that it 
was true and that the speaker felt it. The single flaw 
in the Cooper Institute speech has already been cited, the 
narrow view of Western respectability as to John Brown. 



156 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

For the rest, this speech, dry enough in a sense, is an 
incomparably masterly statement of the then political 
situation, reaching from its far back origin to the precise 
and definite question requiring decision at that moment. 
Mr. Choate, who as a young man was present, set down 
of late years his vivid recollection of that evening. ?.! He 
appeared in every sense of the word like one of the plain 
people among whom he loved to be counted. At first 
sight there was nothing impressive or imposing about 
him; his clothes hung awkwardly on his giant frame; his 
face was of a dark pallor without the slightest tinge of 
colour; his seamed and rugged features bore the furrows 
of hardship and struggle; his deep-set eyes looked sad 
and anxious ; his countenance in repose gave little evidence 
of the brilliant power which raised him from the lowest 
to the highest station among his countrymen; as he talked 
to me before the meeting he seemed ill at ease." We 
know, as a fact, that among his causes of apprehension, 
he was for the first time painfully conscious of those 
clothes. " When he spoke," proceeds Mr. Choate, " he 
was transformed ; his eye kindled, his voice rang, his face 
shone and seemed to light up the whole assembly. For 
an hour and a half he held his audience in the hollow of 
his hand. His style of speech and manner of delivery 
were severely simple. What Lowell called * the grand 
simplicities of the Bible,' with which he was so familiar, 
were reflected in his discourse. ... It was marvellous 
to see how this untutored man, by mere self-discipline and 
the chastening of his own spirit, had outgrown all mere- 
tricious arts, and found his way to the grandeur and 
strength of absolute simplicity." 

The newspapers of the day after this speech confirm 
these reverent reminiscences. On this, his first introduc- 
tion to the cultivated world of the East, Lincoln's audience 
were at the moment and for the moment conscious of 
the power which he revealed. The Cooper Institute 
speech takes the plain principle that slavery is wrong, and 
draws the plain inference that it is idle to seek for com- 
mon ground with men who say it is right. Strange but 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 157 

tragically frequent examples show how rare it is for 
statesmen in times of crisis to grasp the essential truth 
so simply. It is creditable to the leading men of New 
York that they recognised a speech which just at that 
time urged this plain thing in sufficiently plain language 
as a very great speech, and had an inkling of great and 
simple qualities in the man who made it. It is not 
specially discreditable that very soon and for a long while 
part of them, or of those who were influenced by their 
report, reverted to their former prejudices in regard to 
Lincoln. When they saw him thrust by election managers 
into the Presidency, very few indeed of what might 
be called the better sort believed, or could easily learn, 
that his great qualities were great enough to compensate 
easily for the many things he lacked. This specially 
grotesque specimen of the wild West was soon seen not 
to be of the charlatan type; as a natural alternative he 
was assumed to be something of a simpleton. Many 
intelligent men retained this view of him throughout the 
years of his trial, and, only when his triumph and tragic 
death set going a sort of Lincoln myth, began to recollect 
that " I came to love and trust him even before I knew 
him," or the like. A single speech like this at the Cooper 
Institute might be enough to show a later time that 
Lincoln was a man of great intellect, but it could really 
do little to prepare men in the East for what they next 
heard of him. 

Already a movement was afoot among his friends in 
Illinois to secure his nomination for the Presidency at 
the Convention of the Republican party which was to 
be held in Chicago in May. Before that Convention 
could assemble it had become fairly certain that who- 
ever might be chosen as the Republican candidate would 
be President of the United States, and signs were not 
wanting that he would be faced with grave peril to the 
Union. For the Democratic party, which had met in 
Convention at Charleston in April, had proceeded to 
split into two sections, Northern and Southern. This 
memorable Convention was a dignified assembly gathered 



158 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

in a serious mood in a city of some antiquity and social 
charm. From the first, however, a latent antipathy be- 
tween the Northern and the Southern delegates made 
itself felt. The Northerners, predisposed to a certain 
deference towards the South and prepared to appreciate 
its graceful hospitality, experienced an uneasy sense that 
they were regarded as social inferiors. Worse trouble 
than this appeared when the Convention met for its first 
business, the framing of the party platform. Whether 
the position which Lincoln had forced Douglas to take 
up had precipitated this result or not, dissension between 
Northern and Southern Democrats on the subject of 
slavery had already manifested itself in Congress, and 
in the party Convention the division became irreparable. 
Douglas, it will be remembered, had started with the 
principle that slavery in the Territories formed a ques- 
tion for the people of each territory to decide; he had 
felt bound to accept the doctrine underlying the Dred 
Scott judgments, according to which slavery was by the 
Constitution lawful in all territories ; pressed by Lincoln, 
he had tried to reconcile his original position with this 
doctrine by maintaining that while slavery was by the 
Constitution lawful in every Territory it was nevertheless 
lawful for a Territorial Legislature to make slave-own- 
ing practically impossible. In framing a declaration of 
the party principles as to slavery the Southern delegates 
in the Democratic Convention aimed at meeting this 
evasion. With considerable show of logic they asserted, 
in the party platform which they proposed, not merely 
the abstract rightfulness and lawfulness of slavery, but 
the duty of Congress itself to make any provision that 
might be necessary to protect it in the Territories. To 
this the Northern majority of the delegates could not 
consent; they carried an amendment declaring merely 
that they would abide by any decision of the Supreme 
Court as to slavery. Thereupon the delegates, not indeed 
of the whole South but of all the cotton-growing States 
except Georgia, withdrew from the Convention. The 
remaining delegates were, under the rules of the Con- 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 159 

vention, too few to select a candidate for the Presidency, 
and the Convention adjourned, to re-assemble at Balti- 
more in June. Eventually, after attempts at reunion and 
further dissensions, two separate Democratic Conven- 
tions at Baltimore, a Northern and a Southern, nomi- 
nated, as their respective candidates, Stephen Douglas, 
the obvious choice with whom, if the Southerners had 
cared to temporise further, a united Democratic party 
could have swept the polls, and John C. Breckinridge of 
Kentucky, a gentleman not otherwise known than as 
the standard bearer on this great occasion of the un- 
disguised and unmitigated claims of the slave owners. 

Thus it was that the American Democratic party for- 
feited power for twenty-four years, divided between the 
consistent maintenance of a paradox and the adroit main- 
tenance of inconsistency. Another party in this election 
demands a moment's notice. A Convention of delegates, 
claiming to represent the old Whigs, met also at Balti- 
more and declared merely that it stood for " the Consti- 
tution of the country, the union of the States, and the 
enforcement of the laws." They nominated for the 
Presidency John Bell of Tennessee, and for the Vice- 
Presidency Edward Everett. This latter gentleman was 
afterwards chosen as the orator of the day at the cere- 
mony on the battlefield of Gettysburg when Lincoln's 
most famous speech was spoken. He was a travelled man 
and a scholar; he was Secretary of State for a little while 
under Fillmore, and dealt honestly and firmly with the 
then troublous question of Cuba. His orations deserve 
to be looked at, for they are favourable examples of the 
eloquence which American taste applauded, and as such 
they help to show how original Lincoln was in the simpler 
beauty of his own simpler diction. In justice to the 
Whigs, let it be noted that they declared for the main- 
tenance of the Union, committing themselves with de- 
cision on the question of the morrow; but it was a singular 
platform that resolutely and totally ignored the only 
issue of the day. Few politicians can really afford to 
despise either this conspicuously foolish attempt to over- 



160 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

come a difficulty by shutting one's eyes to it, or the more 
plausible proposal of the Northern Democrats to con- 
tinue temporising with a movement for slavery in which 
they were neither bold enough nor corrupted enough 
to join. The consequences, now known to us, of a de- 
termined stand against the advance of slavery were in- 
stinctively foreseen by these men, and they cannot be 
blamed for shrinking from them. Yet the historian now, 
knowing that those consequences exceeded in terror all 
that could have been foreseen, can only agree with the 
judgment expressed by Lincoln in one of his Kansas 
speeches: " We want and must have a national policy as 
to slavery which deals with it as being a wrong. Who- 
ever would prevent slavery becoming national and per- 
petual yields all when he yields to a policy which treats 
it either as being right, or as being a matter of indif- 
ference." The Republican party had been founded upon 
just this opinion. Electoral victory was now being pre- 
pared for it, not because a majority was likely yet to take 
so resolute a view, but because its effective opponents 
were divided between those who had gone the length 
of calling slavery right and those who strove to treat 
it as indifferent. The fate of America may be said to 
have depended in the early months of i860 on whether 
the nominee of the Republican party was a man who 
would maintain its principles with irresolution, or with 
obstinacy, or with firm moderation. 

When it had first been suggested to Lincoln in the 
course of 1859 that he might be that nominee he said, 
" I do not think myself fit for the Presidency." This 
was probably his sincere opinion at the moment, though 
perhaps the moment was one of dejection. In any case 
his opinion soon changed, and though it is not clear 
whether he encouraged his friends to bring his name 
forward, we know in a general way that when they 
decided to do so he used every effort of his own to help 
them. We must accept without reserve Herndon's 
reiterated assertion that Lincoln was intensely ambitious; 
and, if ambition means the eager desire for great oppor- 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 161 

tunities, the depreciation of it, which has long been a 
commonplace of literature, and which may be traced 
back to the Epicureans, is a piece of cant which ought 
to be withdrawn from currency, and ambition, commen- 
surate with the powers which each man can discover in 
himself, should be frankly recognised as a part of 
Christian duty. In judging him to be the best man for 
the Presidency, Lincoln's Illinois friends and he himself 
formed a very sensible judgment, but they did so in 
flagrant contradiction to many superficial appearances. 
This candidate for the chief magistracy at a critical time 
of one of the great nations of the world had never ad- 
ministered any concern much larger than that post office 
that he once " carried around in his hat." Of the several 
other gentlemen whose names were before the party there 
was none who might not seem greatly to surpass him in 
experience of affairs. To one of them, Seward, the nomi- 
nation seemed to belong almost of right. Chase and 
Seward both were known and dignified figures in that 
great assembly the Senate. Chase was of proved recti- 
tude and courage, Seward of proved and very consider- 
able ability. Chase had been Governor of Ohio, Seward 
of New York State; and the position of Governor in a 
State — a State it must be remembered is independent in 
almost the whole of what we call domestic politics — is 
strictly analogous to the position of President in the 
Union, and, especially in a great State, is the best train- 
ing ground for the Presidency. But beyond this, Seward, 
between whom and Lincoln the real contest lay, had for 
some time filled a recognised though unofficial position 
as the leader of his party. He had failed, as has been 
seen in his dealings with Douglas, in stern insistence upon 
principle, but the failure was due rather to his sanguine 
and hopeful temper than to lack of courage. On the 
whole from the time when he first stood up against 
Webster in the discussions of 1850, when Lincoln was 
both silent and obscure, he had earned his position well. 
Hereafter, as Lincoln's subordinate, he was to do his 
country first-rate service, and to earn a pure fame as 



i62 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the most generously loyal subordinate to a chief whom he 
had thought himself fit to command. We happen to have 
ample means of estimating now all Lincoln's Republican 
competitors; we know that none of the rest were equal 
to Seward; and we know that Seward himself, if he had 
had his way, would have brought the common cause to 
ruin. Looking back now at the comparison which 
Lincoln, when he entered into the contest, must have 
drawn between himself and Seward — for of the rest we 
need not take account — we can see that to himself at 
least and some few in Illinois he had now proved his 
capacities, and that in Seward's public record, more espe- 
cially in his attitude towards Douglas, he had the means 
of measuring Seward. In spite of the far greater ex- 
perience of the latter he may have thought himself to be 
his superior in that indefinable thing — the sheer strength 
of a man. Not only may he have thought this; he must 
have known it. He had shown his grasp of the essential 
facts when he forced the Republican party to do battle 
with Douglas and the party of indifference; he showed 
the same now when, after long years of patience and 
self-discipline, he pushed himself into Seward's place as 
the Republican leader. 

All the same, what little we know of the methods by 
which he now helped his own promotion suggests that 
the people who then and long after set him down as a 
second-rate person may have had a good deal to go 
upon. A kind friend has produced a letter which he 
wrote in March, i860, to a Kansas gentleman who 
desired to be a delegate to the Republican Convention, 
and who offered, upon condition, to persuade his fellow 
delegates from Kansas to support Lincoln. Here is the 
letter: "As to your kind wishes for myself, allow me 
to say I cannot enter the ring on the money basis — first 
because in the main it is wrong; and secondly I have not 
and cannot get the money. I say in the main the use 
of money is wrong; but for certain objects in a political 
contest the use of some is both right and indispensable. 
With me, as with yourself, this long struggle has been one 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 163 

of great pecuniary loss. I now distinctly say this : If you 
shall be appointed a delegate to Chicago I will furnish 
one hundred dollars to bear the expenses of the trip." 
The Kansas gentleman failed to obtain the support of the 
Kansas delegates as a body for Lincoln. Lincoln none 
the less held to his promise of a hundred dollars if the 
man came to Chicago ; and, having, we are assured, much 
confidence in him, took the earliest opportunity of ap- 
pointing him to a lucrative office, besides consult- 
ing him as to other appointments in Kansas. This 
is all that we know of the affair, but our informant 
presents it as one of a number of instances in which 
Lincoln good-naturedly trusted a man too soon, and ob- 
stinately clung to his mistake. As to the appointment, 
the man had evidently begun by soliciting money in a 
way which would have marked him to most of us as a 
somewhat unsuitable candidate for any important post; 
and the payment of the hundred dollars plainly trans- 
gresses a code both of honour and of prudence which 
most politicians will recognise and which should not need 
definition. To say, as Lincoln probably said to himself, 
that there is nothing intrinsically wrong in a moderate 
payment for expenses to a fellow worker in a public cause, 
whom you believe to have sacrificed much, is to ignore 
the point, indeed several points. Lincoln, hungry now 
for some success in his own unrewarded career, was 
tempted to a small manoeuvre by which he might pick up 
a little support; he was at the same time tempted, no less, 
to act generously (according to his means) towards a 
man who, he readily believed, had made sacrifices like 
his own. He was not the man to stand against this double 
temptation. 

Petty lapses of this order, especially when the delin- 
quent may be seen to hesitate and excuse himself, are 
more irritating than many larger and more brazen of- 
fences, for they give us the sense of not knowing where 
we are. When they are committed by a man of seemingly 
strong and high character, it is well to ask just what 
they signify. Some of the shrewdest observers of Lincoln, 



164 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

friendly and unfriendly, concur in their description of 
the weaknesses of which this incident may serve as the 
example, weaknesses partly belonging to his temperament, 
b".t partly such as a man risen from poverty, with little 
variety of experience and with no background of home 
training, stands small chance of escaping. For one thing 
his judgment of men and how to treat them was as bad in 
some ways as it was good in others. His own sure grasp 
of the largest and commonest things in life, and his sober 
and measured trust in human nature as a whole, gave him 
a rare knowledge of the mind of the people in the mass. 
So, too, when he had known a man long, or been with 
him or against him in important transactions, he some- 
times developed great insight and sureness of touch ; and, 
when the man was at bottom trustworthy, his robust con- 
fidence in him was sometimes of great public service. But 
he had no gift of rapid perception and no instinctive tact 
or prudence in regard to the very numerous and very 
various men with whom he had slight dealings on which 
he could bestow no thought. This is common with men 
who have risen from poverty; if they have not become 
hard and suspicious, they are generally obtuse to the 
minor indications by which shrewd men of education know 
the impostor, and they are perversely indulgent to little 
meannesses in their fellows which they are incapable of 
committing themselves. In Lincoln this was aggravated 
by an immense good-nature — as he confessed, he could 
hardly say " no " ; — it was an obstinate good-nature, 
which found a naughty pleasure in refusing to be cor- 
rected; and if it should happen that the object of his 
weak benevolence had given him personal cause of of- 
fence, the good-nature became more incorrigible than 
ever. Moreover, Lincoln's strength was a slow strength, 
shown most in matters in which elementary principles of 
right or the concentration of intense thought guided him. 
Where minor and more subtle principles of conduct 
should have come in, on questions which had not come 
within the range of his reflection so far and to which, 
amidst his heavy duties, he could not spare much cogi- 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 165 

tation, he would not always show acute perception, and, 
which is far worse, he would often show weakness of 
will. The present instance may be ever so trifling, yet 
it does relate to the indistinct and dangerous borderland 
of political corruption. It need arouse no very serious 
suspicions. Mr. Herndon, whose pertinacious researches 
unearthed that Kansas gentleman's correspondence, and 
who is keenly censorious of Lincoln's fault, in the upshot 
trusts and reveres Lincoln. And the massive testimony 
of his keenest critics to his honesty quite decides the 
matter. But Lincoln had lived in a simple Western town, 
not in one of the already polluted great cities; he was a 
poor man himself and took the fact that wealth was used 
against him as a part of the inevitable drawbacks of his 
lot; and it is certain that he did not clearly take account 
of the whole business of corruption and jobbery as a 
hideous and growing peril to America. It is certain too 
that he lacked the delicate perception of propriety in such 
matters, or the strict resolution in adhering to it on small 
occasions, which might have been possessed by a far less 
honest man. The severest criticisms which Lincoln after- 
wards incurred were directed to the appointments which 
he made; we shall see hereafter that he had very solid 
reasons for his general conduct in such matters; but it 
cannot be said with conviction that he had that horror 
of appointment on other grounds than merit which en- 
lightens, though it does not always govern, more edu- 
cated statesman. His administration would have been 
more successful, and the legacy he left to American public 
life more bountiful, if his traditions, or the length of 
his day's work, had allowed him to be more careful in 
these things. As it is he was not commended to the 
people of America and must not be commended to us by 
the absence of defects as a ruler or as a man, but by the 
qualities to which his defects belonged. An acute literary 
man wrote of Lincoln, when he had been three years 
in office, these remarkable words: " You can't help feel- 
ing an interest in him, a sympathy and a kind of pity; 
feeling, too, that he has some qualities of great value, yet 



166 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

fearing that his weak points may wreck him or may 
wreck something. His life seems a series of wise, sound 
conclusions, slowly reached, oddly worked out, on great 
questions with constant failures in administration of de- 
tail and dealings with individuals." It was evidently a 
clever man who wrote this; he would have been a wise 
man if he had known that the praise he was bestowing on 
Lincoln was immeasurably greater than the blame. 

So the natural prejudice of those who welcomed 
Lincoln as a prophet in the Cooper Institute but found 
his candidature for the Presidency ridiculous, was not 
wholly without justification. His partisans, however — 
also not unjustly — used his humble origin for all it was 
worth. The Republicans of Illinois were assembled at 
Decatur in preparation for the Chicago Convention, when, 
amid tumultuous cheers, there marched in old John Hanks 
and another pioneer bearing on their shoulders two long 
fence rails labelled : u Two rails from a lot made by 
Abraham Lincoln and John Hanks in the Sangamon 
Bottom in the year 1830." " Gentlemen," said Lincoln, 
in response to loud calls, V I suppose you want to know 
something about those things. Well, the truth is, John 
Hanks and I did make rails in the Sangamon Bottom. I 
don't know whether we made those rails or not; fact is, 
I don't think they are a credit to the makers. But I do 
know this: I made rails then, and I think I could make 
better ones than these now.' , It is unnecessary to tell of 
the part those rails were to play in the coming campaign. 
It is a contemptible trait in books like that able novel 
u Democracy," that they treat the sentiment which at- 
tached to the V Rail-splitter " as anything but honourable. 

The Republican Convention met at Chicago in circum- 
stances of far less dignity than the Democratic Conven- 
tion at Charleston. Processions and brass bands, rough 
fellows collected by Lincoln's managers, rowdies imported 
from New York by Seward's, filled the streets with noise; 
and the saloon keepers did good business. Yet the actual 
Convention consisted of grave men in an earnest mood. 
Besides Seward and Chase and Lincoln, Messrs. Cameron 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 167 

of Pennsylvania and Bates of Missouri, of whom we shall 
hear later, were proposed for the Presidency. So also 
were Messrs. Dayton and Collamer, politicians of some 
repute ; and McLean, of the Supreme Court, had some sup- 
porters. The prevalent expectation in the States was that 
Seward would easily secure the nomination, but it very 
soon appeared in the Convention that his opponents were 
too strong for that. Several ballots took place; there 
were the usual conferences and bargainings, which prob* 
ably affected the result but little; Lincoln's managers^ 
especially Judge David Davis, afterwards of the Supreme 
Court, were shrewd people ; Lincoln had written to them 
expressly that they could make no bargain binding on him, 
but when Cameron was clearly out of the running they 
did promise Cameron's supporters a place in Lincoln's 
Cabinet, and a similar promise was made for one Caleb 
Smith. The delegates from Pennsylvania went on to 
Lincoln; then those of Ohio; and before long his victory 
was assured. A Committee of the Convention, some of 
them sick at heart, was sent to bear the invitation to 
Lincoln. He received them in his little house with a 
simple dignity which one of them has recorded; and as 
they came away one said, " Well, we might have chosen a 
handsomer article, but I doubt whether a better." 

On the whole, if we can put aside the illusion which 
besets us, who read the preceding history if at all in the 
light of Lincoln's speeches, and to whom his competitors 
are mere names, this was the most surprising nomination 
ever made in America. Other Presidential candidates 
have been born in poverty, but none ever wore the scars 
of poverty so plainly; others have been intrinsically more 
obscure, but these have usually been chosen as bearing the 
hall-mark of eminent prosperity or gentility. Lincoln 
had indeed at this time displayed brilliant ability in the 
debates with Douglas, and he had really shown a states- 
man's grasp of the situation more than any other Republi- 
can leader. The friends in Illinois who put him forward 
— men like David Davis, who was a man of distinction 
himself — did so from a true appreciation of his powers. 



168 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

But this does not seem to have been the case with the 
bulk of the delegates from other States. The explana- 
tion given us of their action is curious. The choice was 
not the result of merit; on the other hand, it was not 
the work of the ordinary wicked wire-puller, for what 
may be called the machine was working for Seward. The 
choice was made by plain representative Americans who 
set to themselves this question: " With what candidate 
can we beat Douglas?" and who found the answer in 
the prevalence of a popular impression, concerning 
Lincoln and Seward, which was in fact wholly mistaken. 
There was, it happens, earnest opposition to Seward 
among some Eastern Republicans on the good ground 
that he was a clean man but with doubtful associates. 
This opposition could not by itself have defeated him. 
What did defeat him was his reputation at the moment 
as a very advanced Republican who would scare away the 
support of the weaker brethren. He was, for instance, 
the author of the alarming phrase about " irrepressible 
conflict," and he had spoken once, in a phrase that was 
misinterpreted, about " a higher law than the Constitu- 
tion." Lincoln had in action taken a far stronger line 
than Seward; he was also the author of the phrase about 
the house divided against itself; but then, besides the fact 
that Lincoln was well regarded just where Douglas was 
most popular, Lincoln was a less noted man than Seward 
and his stronger words occasioned less wide alarm. So, 
to please those who liked compromise, the Convention 
rejected a man who would certainly have compromised, 
and chose one who would give all that moderation 
demanded and die before he yielded one further inch* 
Many Americans have been disposed to trace in the rais- 
ing up of Lincoln the hand of a Providence protecting 
their country in its worst need. It would be affectation 
to set their idea altogether aside; it is, at any rate, a mem- 
orable incident in the history of a democracy, permeated 
with excellent intentions but often hopelessly subject to in- 
ferior influences, that at this critical moment the fit man 
was chosen on the very ground of his supposed unfitness. 



THE RISE OF LINCOLN 169 

The result of the contest between the four Presidential 
candidates was rendered almost a foregone conclusion 
by the decision of the Democrats. Lincoln in deference 
to the usual and seemly procedure took no part in the 
campaign, nor do his doings in the next months concern 
us. Seward, to his great honour, after privately ex- 
pressing his bitter chagrin at the bestowal of what was 
his due upon u a little Illinois attorney," threw himself 
whole-heartedly into the contest, and went about making 
admirable speeches. On the night of November 6, 
Lincoln sat alone with the operator in the telegraph box 
at Springfield, receiving as they came in the results of 
the elections of Presidential electors in the various States. 
Long before the returns were complete his knowledge of 
such matters made him sure of his return, and before 
he left that box he had solved in principle, as he after- 
wards declared, the first and by no means least important 
problem of his Presidency, the choice of a Cabinet. 

The victory was in one aspect far from complete. If 
we look not at the votes in the Electoral College with 
which the formal choice of President lay, but at the 
popular votes by which the electors were returned, we 
shall see that the new President was elected by a minority 
of the American people. He had a large majority over 
Douglas, but if Douglas had received the votes which 
were given for the Southern Democrat, Breckinridge, he 
would have had a considerable majority over Lincoln, 
though the odd machinery of the Electoral College would 
still have kept him out of the Presidency. In another 
aspect it was a fatally significant victory. Lincoln's votes 
were drawn only from the Northern States; he carried 
almost all the free States and he carried no others. For 
the first time in American history, the united North had 
used its superior numbers to outvote the South. This 
would in any case have caused great vexation, and the 
personality of the man chosen by the North aggravated 
it. The election of Lincoln was greeted throughout the 
South with a howl of derision. 



CHAPTER VI 

SECESSION 

I. The Case of the South against the Union. 

The Republicans of the North had given their votes 
upon a very clear issue, but probably few of them had 
fully realised how grave a result would follow. Within 
a few days of the election of Lincoln the first step in the 
movement of Secession had been taken, and before the 
new President entered upon his duties it was plain that 
either the dissatisfied States must be allowed to leave 
the Union or the Union must be maintained by war. 

Englishmen at that time and since have found a diffi- 
culty in grasping the precise cause of the war that fol-» 
lowed. Of those who were inclined to sympathise with 
the North, some regarded the war as being simply about 
slavery, and, while unhesitatingly opposed to slavery, 
wondered whether it was right to make war upon it; 
others, regarding it as a war for the Union and not 
against slavery at all, wondered whether it was right to 
make war for a Union that could not be peaceably main- 
tained. Now it is seldom possible to state the cause of a 
war quite candidly in a single sentence, because as a rule 
there are on each side people who concur in the final 
rupture for somewhat different reasons. But, in this 
case, forecasting a conclusion which must be examined in 
some detail, we can state the cause of war in a very few 
sentences. If we ask first what the South fought for, the 
answer is: the leaders of the South and the great mass 
of the Southern people had a single supreme and all-em- 
bracing object in view, namely, to ensure the permanence 
and, if need be, the extension of the slave system; they 
carried with them, however, a certain number of South- 
erners who were opposed or at least averse to slavery, 

1 70 



SECESSION 171 

but who thought that the right of their States to leave 
the Union or remain in it as they chose must be main- 
tained. If we ask what the North fought for, the answer 
is: A majority, by no means overwhelming, of the North- 
ern people refused to purchase the adhesion of the South 
by conniving at any further extension of slavery, and an 
overwhelming majority refused to let the South dissolve 
the Union for slavery or for any other cause. 

The issue about slavery, then, became merged in 
another issue, concerning the Union, which had so far 
remained in the background. 

The first thing that must be grasped about it is the 
total difference of view which now existed between North 
and South in regard to the very nature of their connec- 
tion. The divergence had taken place so completely and 
in the main so quietly that each side now realised with 
surprise and indignation that the other held an opposite 
opinion. In the North the Union was regarded as consti- 
tuting a permanent and unquestionable national unity 
from which it was flat rebellion for a State or any other 
combination of persons to secede. In the South the Union 
appeared merely as a peculiarly venerable treaty of alli- 
ance, of which the dissolution would be very painful, but 
which left each State a sovereign body with an inde- 
feasible right to secede if in the last resort it judged that 
the painful necessity had come. In a few border States 
there was division and doubt on this subject, a fact which 
must have helped to hide from each side the true strength 
of opinion on the other. But, setting aside these border 
States, there were in the North some who doubted 
whether it was expedient to fight for the Union, but none 
of any consequence who doubted that it was constitu- 
tionally correct; and there were in the South men who 
insisted that no occasion to secede had arisen, but these 
very men, when outvoted in their States, maintained most 
passionately the absolute right of secession. 

The two sides contended for two contrary doctrines 
of constitutional law. It is natural when parties are 
disputing over a question of political wisdom and of 



172 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

moral right that each should claim for its contention if 
possible the sanction of acknowledged legal principle. 
So it was with the parties to the English Civil War, and 
the tendency to regard matters from a legal point of 
view is to this day deeply engrained in the mental habits 
of America. But North and South were really divided 
by something other than legal opinion, a difference in the 
objects to which their feelings of loyalty and patriotism 
were directed. This difference found apt expression in 
the Cabinet of President Buchanan, who of course re- 
mained in office between the election of Lincoln in 
November and his inauguration in March. General Cass 
of Michigan had formerly stood for the Presidency with 
the support of the South, and he held Cabinet office now 
as a sympathiser with the South upon slavery, but he was 
a Northerner. " I see how it is," he said to two of his 
colleagues; " you are a Virginian, and you are a South 
Carolinian; I am not a Michigander, I am an American." 
In a former chapter the creation of the Union and 
the beginnings of a common national life have been 
traced in outline. Obstacles to the Union had existed 
both in the North and in the South, and, after it had been 
carried, the tendency to threaten disruption upon some 
slight conflict of interest had shown itself in each. But 
a proud sense of single nationality had soon become 
prevalent in both, and in the North nothing whatever had 
happened to set back this growth, for the idea which 
Lowell had once attributed to his Hosea Biglow of ab- 
juring Union with slave owners was a negligible force. 
Undivided allegiance to the Union was the natural senti- 
ment of citizens of Ohio or Wisconsin, States created 
by the authority of the Union out of the common do- 
minion of the Union. It had become, if anything, more 
deeply engrained in the original States of the North, for 
their predominant occupation in commerce would tend 
in this particular to give them larger views. The pride 
of a Boston man in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
was of the same order as his pride in the city of Boston; 
both were largely pride in the part which Boston and 



SECESSION 173 

Massachusetts had taken in making the United States 
of America. Such a man knew well that South Carolina 
had once threatened secession, but, for that matter, the 
so-called Federalists of New England had once threatened 
it. The argument of Webster in the case of South Caro- 
lina was a classic, and was taken as conclusive on the 
question of legal right. The terser and more resonant 
declaration of President Jackson, a Southerner, and the 
response to it which thrilled all States, South or North, 
outside South Carolina, had set the seal to Webster's 
doctrines. There had been loud and ominous talk of 
secession lately; it was certainly not mere bluster; North- 
erners in the main were cautious politicians and had been 
tempted to go far to conciliate it. But if the claim of 
Southern States were put in practice, the whole North 
would now regard it not as a respectable claim, but as 
an outrage. 

It is important to notice that the disposition to take 
this view did not depend spen advanced opinions against 
slavery. Some of the most violent opponents of slavery 
would care relatively little about the Constitution or the 
Union ; they would at first hesitate as to whether a peace- 
ful separation between States which felt so differently on 
a moral question like slavery was not a more Christian 
solution of their difference than a fratricidal war. On 
the other hand, men who cared little about slavery, and 
would gladly have sacrificed any convictions they had 
upon that matter for the sake of the Union, were at first 
none the less vehement in their anger at an attack upon 
the Union. There is, moreover, a more subtle but still 
important point to be observed in this connection. Demo- 
crats in the North inclined as a party to stringent and 
perhaps pedantically legal views of State rights as against 
the rights of the Union; but this by no means necessarily 
meant that they sympathised more than Republicans with 
the claim to dissolve the Union. They laid emphasis 
on State rights merely because they believed that these 
would be a bulwark against any sort of government 
tyranny, and that the large power which was reserved 



174 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

to the local or provincial authorities of the States made 
the government of the nation as a whole more truly 
expressive of the will of the whole people. They now 
found themselves entangled (as we shall see) in curious 
doubts as to what the Federal Government might do to 
maintain the Union, but they had not the faintest doubt 
that the Union was meant to be maintained. The point 
which is now being emphasised must not be misappre- 
hended; differences of sentiment in regard to slavery, in 
regard to State rights, in regard to the authority of 
Government, did, as the war went on and the price was 
paid, gravely embarrass the North; but it was a solid 
and unhesitating North which said that the South had 
no right to secede. 

Up to a certain point the sense of patriotic pride in 
the Union had grown also in the South. It was fostered 
at first by the predominant part which the South played 
in the political life of the country. But for a generation 
past the sense of a separate interest of the South had 
been growing still more vigorously. The political pre- 
dominance of the South had continued, but under a stand- 
ing menace of downfall as the North grew more populous 
and the patriotism which it at first encouraged had be- 
come perverted into an arrogantly unconscious feeling 
that the Union was an excellent thing on condition that it 
was subservient to the South. The common interest of 
the Southern States was slavery; and, when the North- 
erners had become a majority which might one day 
dominate the Federal Government, this common interest 
of the slave States found a weapon at hand in the doctrine 
of the inherent sovereignty of each individual State. This 
doctrine of State sovereignty had come to be held as 
universally in the South as the strict Unionist doctrine 
in the North, and held with as quiet and unshakable a 
confidence that it could not be questioned. It does not 
seem at all strange that the State, as against the Union, 
should have remained the supreme object of loyalty in 
old communities like those of South Carolina and Virginia, 
abounding as they did in conservative influences which 



SECESSION 175 

were lacking in the North. But this provincial loyalty 
was not in the same sense a natural growth in States like 
Alabama or Mississippi. These, no less than Indiana 
and Illinois, were the creatures of the Federal Congress, 
set up within the memory of living men, with arbitrary 
boundaries that cut across any old lines of division. 
There was, in fact, no spontaneous feeling of allegiance 
attaching to these political units, and the doctrine of 
their sovereignty had no use except as a screen for the 
interest in slavery which the Southern States had in com- 
mon. But Calhoun, in a manner characteristic of his 
peculiar and dangerous type of intellect, had early seen 
in a view of State sovereignty, which would otherwise 
have been obsolete, the most serviceable weapon for the 
joint interests of the Southern States. In a society where 
intellectual life was restricted, his ascendency had been 
great, though his disciples had, reasonably enough, 
thrown aside the qualifications which his subtle mind 
had attached to the right of secession. Thus in the 
Southern States generally, even among men most strongly 
opposed to the actual proposal to secede, the real or 
alleged constitutional right of a State to secede if it chose 
now passed unquestioned and was even regarded as a 
precious liberty. 

It is impossible to avoid asking whether on this ques- 
tion of constitutional law the Northern opinion or the 
Southern opinion was correct. (The question was indeed 
an important question in determining the proper course 
of procedure for a President when confronted with seces- 
sion, but it must be protested that the moral right and 
political wisdom of neither party in the war depended 
mainly, if at all, upon this legal point. It was a question 
of the construction which a court of law should put upon 
a document which was not drawn up with any view to 
determining this point.) If we go behind the Constitu- 
tion, which was then and is now in force, to the original 
document of which it took the place, we shall find it en- 
titled " Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union," 
but we shall not find any such provisions as men desirous 



176 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

of creating a stable and permanent federal government 
might have been expected to frame. If we read the actual 
Constitution we shall find no word distinctly implying 
that a State could or could not secede. As to the real 
intention of its chief authors, there can be no doubt 
that they hoped and trusted the Union would prove 
indissoluble, and equally little doubt that they did 
not wish to obtrude upon those whom they asked to 
enter into it the thought that this step would be irrev- 
ocable. For the view taken in the South there is one 
really powerful argument, on which Jefferson Davis in- 
sisted passionately in the argumentative memoirs with 
which he solaced himself in old age. It is that in several 
of the States, when the Constitution was accepted, public 
declarations were made to the citizens of those States by 
their own representatives that a State might withdraw 
from the Union. But this is far from conclusive. No 
man gets rid of the obligation of a bond by telling a 
witness that he does not mean to be bound; the question 
is not what he means, but what the party with whom he 
deals must naturally take him to mean. Now the Con 
stitution of the United States upon the face of it purports 
to create a government able to take its place among the 
other governments of the world, able if it declares war to 
wield the whole force of its country in that war, and able 
if it makes peace to impose that peace upon all its sub* 
jects. This seems to imply that the authority of that gov* 
ernment over part of the country should be legally inde* 
feasible. It would have been ridiculous if, during a war 
with Great Britain, States on the Canadian border should 
have had the legal right to secede, and set up a neutral 
government with a view to subsequent reunion with Great 
Britain. The sound legal view of this matter would seem 
to be : that the doctrine of secession is so repugnant to the 
primary intention with which the national instrument of 
government was framed that it could only have been 
supported by an express reservation of the right to secede 
in the Constitution itself. 

The Duke of Argyll, one of the few British statesmen 



SECESSION 177 

of the time who followed this struggle with intelligent 
interest, briefly summed up the question thus: " I know 
of no government in the world that could possibly have 
admitted the right of secession from its own allegiance. " 
Oddly enough, President Buchanan, in his Message to 
Congress on December 4, put the same point not less 
forcibly. 

But to say — as in a legal sense we may — that the South- 
ern States rebelled is not necessarily to say that they 
were wrong. The deliberate endeavour of a people to 
separate themselves from the political sovereignty under 
which they live and set up a new political community, in 
which their national life shall develop itself more fully 
or more securely, must always command a certain respect. 
Whether it is entitled further to the full sympathy and 
to the support or at least acquiescence of others is a 
question which in particular cases involves considerations 
such as cannot be foreseen in any abstract discussion of 
political theory. But, speaking very generally, it is a 
question in the main of the worth which we attribute on 
the one hand to the common life to which it is sought to 
give freer scope, and on the other hand to the common 
life which may thereby be weakened or broken up. It 
sometimes seems to be held that when a decided majority 
of the people whose voices can be heard, in a more or 
less defined area, elect to live for the future under a par- 
ticular government, all enlightened men elsewhere would 
wish them to have their way. If any such principle could 
be accepted without qualification, few movements for 
independence would ever have been more completely 
justified than the secession of the Southern States. If 
we set aside the highland region of which mention has 
already been made, in the six cotton-growing States which 
first seceded, and in several of those which followed as 
soon as it was clear that secession would be resisted, the 
preponderance of opinion in favour of the movement 
was overwhelming. This was not only so among the 
educated and governing portions of society, which were 
interested in slavery. While the negroes themselves were 



178 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

unorganised and dumb and made no stir for freedom, 
the poorer class of white people, to whom the institution 
of slavery was in reality oppressive, were quite uncon- 
scious of this; the enslavement of the negro appeared 
to them a tribute to their own dignity, and their indis- 
criminating spirit of independence responded enthusiasti- 
cally to the appeal that they should assert themselves 
against the real or fancied pretensions of the North. So 
large a statement would require some qualification if we 
were here concerned with the life of a Southern leader; 
and there was of course a brief space, to be dealt with 
in this chapter, in which the question of secession hung 
in the balance, and it is true in this, as in every case, that 
the men who gave the initial push were few. But, broadly 
speaking, it is certain that the movement for secession 
was begun with at least as general an enthusiasm and 
maintained with at least as loyal a devotion as any 
national movement with which it can be compared. And 
yet to-day, just fifty-one years after the consummation of 
its failure, it may be doubted whether one soul among the 
people concerned regrets that it failed. 

English people from that time to this have found th& 
statement incredible; but the fact is that this imposing 
movement, in which rich and poor, gentle and simple, 
astute men of state and pious clergymen, went hand in 
hand to the verge of ruin and beyond, was undertaken 
simply and solely in behalf of slavery. Northern writers 
of the time found it so surprising that they took refuge 
in the theory of conspiracy, alleging that a handful of 
schemers succeeded, by the help of fictitious popular 
clamour and intimidation of their opponents, in launch- 
ing the South upon a course to which the real mind of 
the people was averse. Later and calmer historical survey 
of the facts has completely dispelled this view; and the 
English suspicion, that there must have been some cause 
beyond and above slavery for desiring independence, 
never had any facts to support it. Since 1830 no exponent 
of Southern views had ever hinted at secession on any 
other ground than slavery; every Southern leader de- 



SECESSION 179 

clared with undoubted truth that on every other ground 
he prized the Union; outside South Carolina every South- 
ern leader made an earnest attempt before he surrendered 
the Union cause to secure the guarantees he thought suf- 
ficient for slavery within the Union. The Southern states- 
man (for the soldiers were not statesmen) whose 
character most attracts sympathy now was Alexander 
Stephens, the Vice-President of the Southern Confeder- 
acy, and though he was the man who persisted longest 
in the view that slavery could be adequately secured with- 
out secession, he was none the less entitled to speak for 
the South in his remarkable words on the Constitution 
adopted by the Southern Confederacy: " The new Con- 
stitution has put at rest for ever all the agitating ques- 
tions relating to our peculiar institution, African slavery. 
This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and 
present revolution. The prevailing ideas entertained by 
Jefferson and most of the leading statesmen at the time of 
the old Constitution were that the enslavement of the 
African was wrong in principle socially, morally, and 
politically. Our new government is founded upon ex- 
actly the opposite idea ; its foundations are laid, its corner 
stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not the 
equal of the white man; that slavery — subordination to 
the white man — is his natural and normal condition. 
This, our new government, is the first in the history of 
the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, 
and moral truth. The great objects of humanity are best 
attained when there is conformity to the Creator's laws 
and decrees." Equally explicit and void of shame was 
the Convention of the State of Mississippi. " Our posi- 
tion," they declared, " is thoroughly identified with 
slavery." 

It is common to reproach the Southern leaders with 
reckless folly. They tried to destroy the Union, which 
they really valued, for the sake of slavery, which they 
valued more; they in fact destroyed slavery; and they 
did this, it is said, in alarm at an imaginary danger. This 
is not a true ground of reproach to them. It is true 



180 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

that the danger to slavery from the election of Lincoln 
was not immediately pressing. He neither would have 
done nor could have done more than to prevent during 
his four years of office any new acquisition of territory in 
the slave-holding interest, and to impose his veto on any 
Bill extending slavery within the existing territory of the 
Union. His successor after four years might or might 
not have been like-minded. He did not seem to stand for 
any overwhelming force in American politics; there was 
a majority opposed to him in both Houses of Congress; 
a great majority of the Supreme Court, which might have 
an important part to play, held views of the Constitution 
opposed to his; he had been elected by a minority only 
of the whole American people. Why could not the 
Southern States have sat still, secure that no great harm 
would happen to their institution for the present, and 
hoping that their former ascendency would come back 
to them with the changing fortunes of party strife ? This 
is an argument which might be expected to have weighed 
with Southern statesmen if each of them had been anxious 
merely to keep up the value of his own slave property 
for his own lifetime, but this was far from being their 
case. It is hard for us to put ourselves at the point of 
view of men who could sincerely speak of their property 
in negroes as theirs by the "decree of the Creator"; but 
it is certain that within the last two generations trouble 
of mind as to the rightfulness of slavery had died out 
in a large part of the South; the typical Southern leader 
valued the peculiar form of society under which he lived 
and wished to hand it on intact to his children's children. 
If their preposterous principle be granted, the most ex- 
treme among them deserve the credit of statesmanlike 
insight for having seen, the moment that Lincoln was 
elected, that they must strike for their institution now if 
they wished it to endure. The Convention of South 
Carolina justly observed that the majority in the North 
had voted that slavery was sinful; they had done little 
more than express this abstract opinion, but they had 
done all that. Lincoln's administration might have done 



SECESSION 181 

apparently little, and after it the pendulum would prob- 
ably have swung back. But the much-talked-of swing of 
the pendulum is the most delusive of political phenomena ; 
America was never going to return to where it was before 
this first explicit national assertion of the wrongfulness 
of slavery had been made. It would have been hard to 
forecast how the end would come, or how soon; but the 
end was certain if the Southern States had elected to re- 
main the countrymen of a people who were coming to 
regard their fundamental institution with growing rep- 
robation. Lincoln had said, " This government cannot 
endure permanently, half slave and half free." Lincoln 
was right, and so from their own point of view, that of 
men not brave or wise enough to take in hand a difficult 
social reform, were the leaders who declared immediately 
for secession. 

In no other contest of history are those elements in 
human affairs on which tragic dramatists are prone to 
dwell so clearly marked as in the American Civil War. 
No unsophisticated person now, except in ignorance as 
to the cause of the war, can hesitate as to which side 
enlists his sympathy, or can regard the victory of the 
North otherwise than as the costly and imperfect triumph 
of the right. But the wrong side — emphatically wrong 
— is not lacking in dignity or human worth; the long- 
drawn agony of the struggle is not purely horrible to 
contemplate; there is nothing that in this case makes us 
reluctant to acknowledge the merits of the men who 
took arms in the evil cause. The experience as to the 
relations between superior and inferior races, which is 
now at the command of every intelligent Englishman, 
forbids us to think that the inferiority of the negro justi- 
fied slavery, but it also forbids us to fancy that men to 
whom the relation of owner to slave had become natural 
must themselves have been altogether degraded. The 
men upon the Southern side who can claim any special 
admiration were simple soldiers who had no share in 
causing the war; among the political leaders whom they 
served, there was none who stands out now as a very 



1 82 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

interesting personality, and their chosen chief is an un- 
attractive figure; but we are not to think of these authors 
of the war as a gang of hardened, unscrupulous, cor- 
rupted men. As a class they were reputable, public- 
spirited, and religious men; they served their cause with 
devotion and were not wholly to blame that they chose 
it so ill. The responsibility for the actual secession does 
not rest in an especial degree on any individual leader. 
Secession began rather with the spontaneous movement 
of the whole community of South Carolina, and in the 
States which followed leading politicians expressed rather 
than inspired the general will. The guilt which any of 
us can venture to attribute for this action of a whole 
deluded society must rest on men like Calhoun, who in 
a previous generation, while opinion in the South was still 
to some extent unformed, stifled all thought of reform 
and gave the semblance of moral and intellectual justifica- 
tion to a system only susceptible of a historical excuse. 

The South was neither base nor senseless, but it was 
wrong. To some minds it may not seem to follow that 
it was well to resist it by war, and indeed at the time, as 
often happens, people took up arms with greater search- 
ings of heart upon the right side than upon the wrong. 
If the slave States had been suffered to depart in peace 
they would have set up a new and peculiar political society, 
more truly held together than the original Union by a 
single avowed principle; a nation dedicated to the in- 
equality of men. It is not really possible to think of the 
free national life which they could thus have initiated as 
a thing to be respected and preserved. Nor is it true 
that their choice for themselves of this dingy freedom was 
no concern of their neighbours. We have seen how the 
slave interest hankered for enlarged dominion; and it 
is certain that the Southern Confederacy, once firmly 
established, would have been an aggressive and disturb- 
ing power upon the continent of America. The questions 
of territorial and other rights between it and the old 
Union might have been capable of satisfactory settle- 
ment for the moment, or they might have proved as 



SECESSION 183 

insoluble as Lincoln thought they were. But, at the 
best, if the States which adhered to the old Union had 
admitted the claim of the first seceding States to go, they 
could only have retained for themselves an insecure ex- 
istence as a nation, threatened at each fresh conflict of 
interest or sentiment with a further disruption which 
could not upon any principle have been resisted. The 
preceding chapters have dwelt with iteration upon the 
sentiments which had operated to make Americans a 
people, and on the form and the degree in which those 
sentiments animated the mind of Lincoln. Only so per- 
haps can we fully appreciate for what the people of the 
North fought. It is inaccurate, though not gravely mis- 
leading, to say that they fought against slavery. It would 
be wholly false to say that they fought for mere dominion. 
They fought to preserve and complete a political unity 
nobly conceived by those who had done most to create it, 
and capable, as the sequel showed, of a permanent and a 
healthy continuance. 

And it must never be forgotten, if we wish to enter 
into the spirit which sustained the North in its struggle, 
that loyalty for Union had a larger aspect than that of 
mere allegiance to a particular authority. Vividly present 
to the mind of some few, vaguely but honestly present to 
the mind of a great multitude, was the sense that even had 
slavery not entered into the question a larger cause than 
that of their recent Union was bound up with the issues 
of the war. The Government of the United States had 
been the first and most famous attempt in a great modern 
country to secure government by the will of the mass of 
the people. If in this crucial instance such a Govern- 
ment were seen to be intolerably weak, if it was found 
to be at the mercy of the first powerful minority which 
seized a worked-up occasion to rebel, what they had 
learnt to think the most hopeful agency for the uplifting 
of man everywhere would for ages to come have proved 
a failure. This feeling could not be stronger in any 
American than it was in Lincoln himself. " It has long 
been a question," he said, "whether any Government 



184 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

which is not too strong for the liberties of the people can 
be strong enough to maintain itself." There is one 
marked feature of his patriotism, which could be illus- 
trated by abundance of phrases from his speeches and 
letters, and which the people of several countries of 
Europe can appreciate to-day. His affection for his own 
country and its institutions is curiously dependent upon a 
wider cause of human good, and is not a whit the less 
intense for that. There is perhaps no better expression 
of this widespread feeling in the North than the un- 
prepared speech which he delivered on his way to become 
President, in the Hall of Independence at Philadelphia, 
in which the Declaration of Independence had been 
signed. "I have never," he said, " had a feeling politi- 
cally that did not spring from the sentiments embodied 
in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pon- 
dered over the dangers which were incurred by the men 
who assembled here and framed and adopted that 
Declaration of Independence. I have pondered over the 
toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the 
army who achieved that independence. I have often 
inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was 
that kept the Confederacy so long together. It was not 
the mere matter of separation of the colonies from the 
motherland, it was the sentiment in the Declaration of 
Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people 
of this country, but I hope to the world, for all future 
time. It was that which gave promise that in due time 
the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all 
men." 

2. The Progress of Secession. 

So much for the broad causes without which there 
could have been no Civil War in America. We have 
now to sketch the process by which the fuel was kindled. 
It will be remembered that the President elected in 
November does not enter upon his office for nearly four 
months. For that time, therefore, the conduct of govern- 
ment lay in the hands of President Buchanan, who, for all 



SECESSION 185 

his past subserviency to Southern interests, believed and 
said that secession was absolutely unlawful. Several 
members of his Cabinet were Southerners who favoured 
secession; but the only considerable man among them, 
Cobb of Georgia, soon declared that his loyalty to his 
own State was not compatible with his office and resigned; 
and, though others, including the Secretary for War, 
hung on to their position, it does not appear that they 
influenced Buchanan much, or that their somewhat dubi- 
ous conduct while they remained was of great importance. 
Black, the Attorney-General, and Cass, the Secretary of 
State, who, however, resigned when his advice was dis- 
regarded, were not only loyal to the Union, but anxious 
that the Government should do everything that seemed 
necessary in its defence. Thus this administration, 
hitherto Southern in its sympathies, must be regarded 
for its remaining months as standing for the Union, so 
far as it stood for anything. Lincoln meanwhile had 
little that he could do but to watch events and prepare. 
There was, nevertheless, a point in the negotiations which 
took place between parties at which he took on himself 
a tremendous responsibility and at which his action was 
probably decisive of all that followed. 

The Presidential election took place on November 6, 
i860. On November 10 the Legislature of South Caro- 
lina, which had remained in session for this purpose, 
convened a specially elected Convention of the State to 
decide upon the question of secession. Slave owners and 
poor whites, young and old, street rabble, persons of 
fashion, politicians and clergy, the whole people of this 
peculiar State, distinguished in some marked respects even 
from its nearest neighbours, received the action of the 
Legislature with enthusiastic but grave approval. It was 
not till December 20 that the Convention could pass its 
formal " Ordinance of Secession," but there was never 
for a moment any doubt as to what it would do. The 
question was what other States would follow the example 
of South Carolina. There ensued in all the Southern 
States earnest discussion as to whether to secede or not, 



186 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

and in the North, on which the action of South Carolina, 
however easily it might have been foretold, came as a 
shock, great bewilderment as to what was to be done. 
As has been said, there was in the South generally no 
disposition to give up Southern claims, no doubt as to the 
right of secession, and no fundamental and overriding 
loyalty to the Union, but there was a considerable re- 
luctance to give up the Union and much doubt as to 
whether secession was really wise; there was in the North 
among those who then made themselves heard no doubt 
whatever as to the loyalty due to the Union, but there 
was, apart from previous differences about slavery, every 
possible variety and fluctuation of opinion as to the right 
way of dealing with States which should secede or rebel. 
In certain border States, few in number but likely to play 
an important part in civil war, Northern and Southern 
elements were mingled. Amid loud and distracted dis- 
cussion, public and private, leaders of the several parties 
and of the two sections of the country conducted earnest 
negotiations in the hope of finding a peaceable settlement, 
and when Congress met, early in December, their debates 
took a formal shape in committees appointed by the 
Senate and by the House. 

Meanwhile the President was called upon to deal with 
the problem presented for the Executive Government of 
the Union by the action of South Carolina. It may be 
observed that if he had given his mind to the military 
measures required to meet the possible future, the North, 
which in the end had his entire sympathy, would have 
begun the war with that advantage in preparation which, 
as it was, was gained by the South. In this respect he 
did nothing. But, apart from this, if he had taken up a 
clear and comprehensible attitude towards South Carolina 
and had given a lead to Unionist sympathy, he would 
have consolidated public opinion in the North, and he 
would have greatly strengthened those in the South who 
remained averse to secession. There would have been a 
considerable further secession, but in all likelihood it 
would not have become so formidable as it did. As it 



SECESSION 187 

was, the movement for secession proceeded with all the 
proud confidence that can be felt in a right which is not 
challenged, and the people of the South were not aware, 
though shrewd leaders like Jefferson Davis knew it well, 
of the risk they would encounter till they had committed 
themselves to defying it. 

The problem before Buchanan was the same which, 
aggravated by his failure to deal with it, confronted 
Lincoln when he came into office, and it must be clearly 
understood. The secession of South Carolina was not 
a movement which could at once be quelled by prompt 
measures of repression. Even if sufficient military force 
and apt forms of law had existed for taking such measures 
they would have united the South in support of South 
Carolina, and alienated the North, which was anxious 
for conciliation. Yet it was possible for the Government 
of the Union, while patiently abstaining from violent or 
provocative action, to make plain that in the last resort 
it would maintain its rights in South Carolina with its 
full strength. The main dealings of the Union authori- 
ties with the people of a State came under a very few 
heads. There were local Federal Courts to try certain 
limited classes of issues; jurors, of course, could not be 
compelled to serve in these nor parties to appear. There 
was the postal service; the people of South Carolina did 
not at present interfere with this source of convenience 
to themselves and of revenue to the Union. There were 
customs duties to be collected at the ports, and there 
were forts at the entrance of the harbour in Charleston, 
South Carolina, as well as forts, dockyards and arsenals 
of the United States at a number of points in the South- 
ern States; the Government should quietly but openly 
have taken steps to ensure that the collection should go 
on unmolested, and that the forts and the like should be 
made safe from attack, in South Carolina and everywhere 
else where they were likely to be threatened. Measures 
of this sort were early urged upon Buchanan by Scott, the 
Lieutenant-General (that is, Second in Command under 
the President) of the Army, who had been the officer 



188 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

that carried out Jackson's military dispositions when 
secession was threatened in South Carolina thirty years 
before, and by other officers concerned, particularly by 
Major Anderson, a keen Southerner, but a keen soldier, 
commanding the forts at Charleston, and by Cass and 
Black in his Cabinet. Public opinion in the North de- 
manded such measures. 

If further action than the proper manning and supply 
of certain forts had been in contemplation, an embarrass- 
ing legal question would have arisen. In the opinion of 
the Attorney-General, of leading Democrats like Cass and 
Douglas, and apparently of most legal authorities of 
every party, there was an important distinction, puzzling 
to an English lawyer even if he is versed in the American 
Constitution, between the steps which the Government 
might justly take in self-protection, and measures which 
could be regarded as coercion of the State of South 
Carolina as such. These latter would be unlawful. Bu- 
chanan, instead of acting on or declaring his intentions, 
entertained Congress, which met early in December, with 
a Message, laying down very clearly the illegality of 
secession, but discussing at large this abstract question 
of the precise powers of the Executive in resisting seces- 
sion. The legal question will not further concern us 
because the distinction which it was really intended to 
draw between lawful and unlawful measures against 
secession quite coincided, in its practical application, with 
what common sense and just feeling would in these pe- 
culiar circumstances have dictated. But, as a natural 
consequence of such discussion, an impression was spread 
abroad of the illegality of something vaguely called 
coercion, and of the shadowy nature of any power which 
the Government claimed. 

Up to Lincoln's inauguration the story of the Charles- 
ton forts, of which one, lying on an island in the mouth 
of the harbour, was the famous Fort Sumter, is briefly 
this. Buchanan was early informed that if the Union 
Government desired to hold them, troops and ships of 
war should instantly be sent. Congressmen from South 



SECESSION 189 

Carolina remaining in Washington came to him and 
represented that their State regarded these forts upon 
its soil as their own; they gave assurances that there 
would be no attack on the forts if the existing military 
situation was not altered, and they tried to get a promise 
that the forts should not be reinforced. Buchanan would 
give them no promise, but he equally refused the en- 
treaties of Scott and his own principal ministers that he 
should reinforce the forts, because he declared that this 
would precipitate a conflict. Towards the end of the 
year Major Anderson, not having men enough to hold 
all the forts if, as he expected, they were attacked, with- 
drew his whole force to Fort Sumter, which he thought 
the most defensible, dismantling the principal other fort. 
The Governor of South Carolina protested against this 
as a violation of a supposed understanding with the Presi- 
dent, and seized upon the United States arsenal and the 
custom house, taking the revenue officers into State 
service. Commissioners had previously gone from South 
Carolina to Washington to request the surrender of the 
forts, upon terms of payment for property; they now 
declared that Anderson's withdrawal, as putting him in 
a better position for defence, was an act of war, and de- 
manded that he should be ordered to retire to the main- 
land. Buchanan wavered; decided to yield to them on 
this last point; ultimately, on the last day of i860, yielded 
instead to severe pressure from Black, and decided to 
reinforce Anderson on Fort Sumter. The actual attempt 
to reinforce him was bungled; a transport sent for this 
purpose was fired upon by the South Carolina forces, 
and returned idle. This first act of war, for some curious 
reason, caused no excitement. The people of the North 
were intensely relieved that Buchanan had not yielded to 
whatever South Carolina might demand, and, being prone 
to forgive and to applaud, seem for a time to have experi- 
enced a thrill of glory in the thought that the national 
administration had a mind. Dix, the Secretary of the 
Treasury, elated them yet further by telegraphing to a 
Treasury official at New Orleans, " If any one attempts 



190 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot." 
But Anderson remained without reinforcements or 
further provisions when Lincoln entered office; and 
troops in the service first of South Carolina and after- 
wards of the Southern Confederacy, which was formed 
in February, erected batteries and prepared to bombard 
Fort Sumter. 

No possible plea for President Buchanan can make 
him rank among those who have held high office with 
any credit at all, but he must at once be acquitted of 
any intentional treachery to the Union. It is agreed 
that he was a truthful and sincere man, and there is 
something pleasant in the simple avowal he made to a 
Southern negotiator who was pressing him for some 
instant concession, that he always said his prayers before 
deciding any important matter of State. His previous 
dealings with Kansas would suggest to us robust unscru- 
pulousness, but it seems that he had quite given his judg- 
ment over into the keeping of a little group of Southern 
Senators. Now that he was deprived of this help, he had 
only enough will left to be obstinate against other advice. 
It is suggested that he had now but one motive, the desire 
that the struggle should break out in his successor's time 
rather than his own. Even this is perhaps to judge 
Buchanan's notorious and calamitous laches unfairly. 
Any action that he took must to a certain extent have 
been provocative, and he knew it, and he may have 
clung to the hope that by sheer inaction he would give 
time for some possible forces of reason and conciliation 
to work. If so, he was wrong, but similar and about 
as foolish hopes paralysed Lincoln's Cabinet (and to a 
less but still very dangerous degree Lincoln himself) 
when they took up the problem which Buchanan's neglect 
had made more urgent. Buchanan had in this instance 
the advantage of far better advice, but this silly old man 
must not be gibbeted and Lincoln left free from criticism 
for his part in the same transaction. Both Presidents 
hesitated where to us who look back the case seems clear. 
The circumstances had altered in some respects when 



SECESSION 191 

Lincoln came in, but it is only upon a somewhat broad 
survey of the governing tendencies of Lincoln's adminis- 
tration and of its mighty result in the mass that we dis- 
cover what really distinguishes his slowness of action in 
such cases as this from the hesitation of a man like 
Buchanan. Buchanan waited in the hope of avoiding 
action, Lincoln with the firm intention to see his path in 
the fullest light he could get. 

From an early date in November, i860, every effort 
was made, by men too numerous to mention, to devise 
if possible such a settlement of what were now called 
the grievances of the South as would prevent any other 
State from following the example of South Carolina. 
Apart from the intangible difference presented by much 
disapprobation of slavery in the North and growing re- 
sentment in the South as this disapprobation grew louder, 
the solid ground of dispute concerned the position of 
slavery in the existing Territories and future acquisitions 
of the United States Government; the quarrel arose from 
the election of a President pledged to use whatever power 
he had, though indeed that might prove little, to prevent 
the further extension of slavery; and we may almost 
confine our attention to this point. Other points came 
into discussion. Several of the Northern States had 
" Personal Liberty Laws " expressly devised to impede 
the execution of the Federal law of 1850 as to fugitive 
slaves. Some attention was devoted to these, especially 
by Alexander Stephens, who, as the Southern leader most 
opposed to immediate secession, wished to direct men's 
minds to a grievance that could be remedied. Lincoln, 
who had always said that, though the Fugitive Slave Law 
should be made just and seemly, it ought in substance to 
be enforced, made clear again that he thought such 
" Personal Liberty Laws " should be amended, though 
he protested that it was not for him as President-elect to 
advise the State Legislatures on their own business. The 
Republicans generally agreed. Some of the States con- 
cerned actually began amending their laws. Thus, if the 
disquiet of the South had depended on this grievance, the 



192 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

cause of disquiet would no doubt have been removed. 
Again the Republican leaders, including Lincoln in par- 
ticular, let there be no ground for thinking that an attack 
was intended upon slavery in the States where it was 
established; they offered eventually to give the most 
solemn pledge possible in this matter by passing an 
Amendment of the Constitution declaring that it should 
never be altered so as to take away the independence of 
the existing slave States as to this portion of their 
democratic institutions. Lincoln indeed refused on sev- 
eral occasions to make any fresh public disclaimer of an 
intention to attack existing institutions. His views were 
u open to all who will read." " For the good men in the 
South," 'he writes privately," — I regard the majority of 
them as such — I have no objection to repeat them seventy 
times seven. But I have bad men to deal with both North 
and South; men who are eager for something new upon 
which to base new misrepresentations ; men who would 
like to frighten me, or at least fix upon me the character 
of timidity and cowardice. " Nevertheless he endeav- 
oured constantly in private correspondence to narrow 
and define the issue, which, as he insisted, concerned only 
the territorial extension of slavery. 

The most serious of the negotiations that took place, 
and to which most hope was attached, consisted in the 
deliberations of a committee of thirteen appointed by 
the Senate in December, i860, which took for its guidance 
a detailed scheme of compromise put forward by Senator 
Crittenden, of Kentucky. The efforts of this committee 
to come to an agreement broke down at the outset upon 
the question of the Territories, and the responsibility, 
for good or for evil, of bringing them to an end must 
probably be attributed to the advice of Lincoln. Critten- 
den's first proposal was that there should be a Consti- 
tutional Amendment declaring that slavery should be 
prohibited " in all the territory of the United States, now 
held or hereafter acquired, north of latitude 36 ° 30 ' " — 
(the limit fixed in the Missouri Compromise, but re- 
stricted then to the Louisiana purchase) — while in all 



SECESSION 193 

territory, now held or thereafter acquired south of that 
line, it should be permitted. Crittenden also proposed 
that when a Territory on either side of the line became 
a State, it should become free to decide the question for 
itself; but the discussion never reached this point. On the 
proposal as to the Territories there seemed at first to be 
a prospect that the Republicans would agree, in which 
case the South might very likely have agreed too. The 
desire for peace was intensely strong among the com- 
mercial men of New York and other cities, and it af- 
fected the great political managers and the statesmen 
who, like Seward himself, were in close touch with this 
commercial influence. Tenacious adherence to declared 
principle may have been as strong in country districts as 
the desire for accommodation was in these cities, but it 
was at any rate far less vocal, and on the whole it seems 
that compromise was then in the air. It seemed clear 
from the expressed opinions of his closest allies that 
Seward would support this compromise. Now Seward 
just at this time received Lincoln's offer of the office of 
Secretary of State, a great office and one in which Seward 
expected to rule Lincoln and the country, but in accepting 
which, as he did, he made it incumbent on himself not to 
part company at once with the man who would be nomi- 
nally his chief. Then there occurred a visit paid on 
Seward's behalf by his friend Thurlow Weed, an astute 
political manager but also an able statesman, to Lincoln 
at Springfield. Weed brought back a written statement 
of Lincoln's views. Seward's support was not given to 
the compromise; nor naturally was that of the more 
radical Republicans, to use a term which now became 
common; and the Committee of Thirteen found itself 
unable to agree. 

It is unnecessary to repeat what Lincoln's conviction 
on this, to him the one essential point of policy, was, or 
to quote from the numerous letters in which from the 
time of his nomination he tried to keep the minds of his 
friends firm on this single principle, and to show them 
that if there were the slightest further yielding as to 



194 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

this, save indeed as to the peculiar case of New Mexico, 
which did not matter, and which perhaps he regarded as 
conceded already, the Southern policy of extending slavery 
and of u filibustering ? against neighbouring counties for 
that purpose would revive in full force, and the whole 
labour of the Republican movement would have to begin 
over again. Since his election he had been writing also 
to Southern politicians who were personally friendly, to 
Gilmer of North Carolina, to whom he offered Cabinet 
office, and to Stephens, making absolutely plain that his 
difference with them lay in this one point, but making 
it no less plain that on this point he was, with entire 
respect to them, immovable. Now, on December 22, the 
New York Tribune was " enabled to state that Mr. 
Lincoln stands now as he stood in May last, square upon 
the Republican platform." The writing that Weed 
brought to Seward must have said, perhaps more elabo- 
rately, the same. If Lincoln had not stood square upon 
that platform there were others like Senator Wade of 
Ohio and Senator Grimes of Iowa who might have done 
so and might have been able to wreck the compromise. 
Lincoln, however, did wreck it, at a time when it seemed 
likely to succeed, and it is most probable that thereby he 
caused the Civil War. It cannot be said that he definitely 
expected the Civil War. Probably he avoided making 
any definite forecast; but he expressed no alarm, and he 
privately told a friend about this time that " he could 
not in his heart believe that the South designed the over- 
throw of the Government." But, if he had in his heart 
believed it, nothing in his life gives reason to think that 
he would have been more anxious to conciliate the South ; 
on the contrary, it is in line with all we know of his 
feelings to suppose that he would have thought firmness 
all the more imperative. We cannot recall the solemnity 
of his long-considered speech about " a house divided 
against itself," with which all his words and acts ac- 
corded, without seeing that, if perhaps he speculated little 
about the risks, he was prepared to face them whatever 
they were. Doubtless he took a heavy responsibility, but 



SECESSION 195 

it is painful to find honourable historians, who heartily 
dislike the cause of slavery, capable to-day of wondering 
whether he was right to do so. " If he had not stood 
square " in December upon the same " platform " on 
which he had stood in May, if he had preferred to enroll 
himself among those statesmen of all countries whose 
strongest words are uttered for their own subsequent 
enjoyment in eating them, he might conceivably have 
saved much bloodshed, but he would not have left the 
United States a country of which any good man was 
proud to be a citizen. 

Thus, by the end of i860, the bottom was really out 
of the policy of compromise, and it is not worth while to 
examine the praiseworthy efforts that were still made 
for it while State after State in the South was deciding 
to secede. One interesting proposal, which was aired in 
January, 1861, deserves notice, namely, that the terms 
of compromise proposed by Crittenden should have been 
submitted to a vote of the whole people. It was not 
passed. Seward, whom many people now thought likely 
to catch at any and every proposal for a settlement, said 
afterwards with justice that it was " unconstitutional and 
ineffectual." Ineffectual it would have been in this sense: 
the compromise would in all probability have been carried 
by a majority consisting of men in the border States and 
of all those elsewhere who, though they feared war and 
desired good feeling, had no further definite opinion upon 
the chief questions at issue; but it would have left a 
local majority in many of the Southern States and a 
local majority in many of the Northern States as irrecon- 
cilable with each other as ever. It was opposed also to 
the spirit of the Constitution. In a great country where 
the people with infinitely varied interests and opinions can 
slowly make their predominant wishes appear, but can- 
not really take counsel together and give a firm decision 
upon any emergency, there may be exceptional cases when 
a popular vote on a defined issue would be valuable, 
significant, desired by the people themselves; but the 
machinery of representative government, however faulty, 



196 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

is the only machinery by which the people can in some 
sense govern itself, instead of making itself ungovern- 
able. Above all, in a serious crisis it is supremely repug- 
nant to the spirit of popular government that the men 
chosen by a people to govern it should throw their re- 
sponsibility back at the heads of the electors. It is well 
to be clear as to the kind of proceeding which the authors 
of this proposal were really advocating: a statesman has 
come before the ordinary citizen with a definite statement 
of the principle on which he would act, and an ordinary 
citizen has thereupon taken his part in entrusting him 
with power; then comes the moment for the statesman 
to carry out his principle, and the latent opposition be- 
comes of necessity more alarming; the statesman is there- 
fore to say to the ordinary citizen, " This is a more diffi- 
cult matter than I thought; and if I am to act as I said 
I would, take on yourself the responsibility which I 
recently put myself forward to bear." The ordinary 
citizen will naturally as a rule decline a responsibility thus 
offered him, but he will not be grateful for the offer or 
glad to be a forced accomplice in this process of inde- 
cision. 

If we could determine the prevailing sentiment in the 
North at some particular moment during the crisis, it 
would probably represent what very few individual men 
continued to think for six months together. Early in the 
crisis some strong opponents of slavery were for letting 
the South go, declaring, as did Horace Greeley of the 
New York Tribune, that "they would not be citizens of 
a Republic of which one part was pinned to the other part 
with bayonets"; but this sentiment seems soon to have 
given way when the same men began to consider, as 
Lincoln had considered, whether an agreement to sever 
the Union between the States, with the difficult adjust- 
ment of mutual interests which it would have involved, 
could be so effected as to secure a lasting peace. A blind 
rage on behalf of conciliation broke out later in pros- 
perous business men in great towns — even in Boston it is 
related that u Beacon Street aristocrats " broke up a 



SECESSION 197 

meeting to commemorate John Brown on the anniversary 
of his death, and grave persons thought the meeting an 
outrage. Waves of eager desire for compromise passed 
over the Northern community. Observers at the time 
and historians after are easily mistaken as to popular 
feeling; the acute fluctuations of opinion inevitable among 
journalists, and in any sort of circle where men are con- 
stantly meeting and talking politics, may leave the great 
mass of quiet folk almost unaffected. We may be sure 
that there was a considerable body of steady opinion very 
much in accord with Lincoln; this should not be forgotten, 
but it must not be supposed that it prevailed constantly. 
On the contrary, it was inherent in the nature of the 
crisis that opinion wavered and swayed. We should 
miss the whole significance of Lincoln's story if we did 
not think of the North now and to the end of the war as 
exposed to disunion, hesitation, and quick reaction. If 
at this time a sufficiently authoritative leader with suf- 
ficiently determined timidity had inaugurated a policy 
of stampede, he might have had a vast and tumultuous 
following. Only his following would quickly, if too late, 
have repented. What was wanted, if the people of the 
North were to have what most justly might be called 
their way, was a leader who would not seem to hurry 
them along, nor yet be ever looking round to see if they 
followed, but just go groping forward among the innumer- 
able obstacles, guided by such principles of good sense 
and of right as would perhaps on the whole and in the 
long run be approved by the maturer thought of most 
men; and Lincoln was such a leader. 

When we turn to the South, where, as has been said, 
the movement for secession was making steady though 
not unopposed progress, we have indeed to make excep- 
tions to any sweeping statement, but we must recognise 
a far more clearly defined and far more prevailing 
general opinion. We may set aside for the moment the 
border slave States of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and 
Missouri, each of which has a distinct and an important 
history. Delaware belonged in effect to the North. In 



ig8 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Texas there were peculiar conditions, and Texas had an 
interesting history of its own in this matter, but may be 
treated as remote. There was also, as has been said, a 
highland region covering the west of Virginia and the 
east of Kentucky but reaching far south into the northern 
part of Alabama. Looking at the pathetic spectacle of 
enduring heroism in a mistaken cause which the South 
presented, many people have been ready to suppose that 
it was manoeuvred and tricked into its folly by its politi- 
cians and might have recovered itself from it if the North 
and the Government had exercised greater patience and 
given it time. In support of this view instances are cited 
of strong Unionist feeling in the South. Such instances 
probably belong to the peculiar people of this highland 
country, or else to the mixed and more or less neutral 
population that might be found at New Orleans or trad- 
ing along the Mississippi. There remains a solid and 
far larger South in which indeed (except for South Caro- 
lina) dominant Southern policy was briskly debated, but 
as a question of time, degree, and expediency. Three 
mental forces worked for the same end: the alarmed 
vested interest of the people of substance, aristocratic 
and otherwise; the racial sentiment of the poor whites, 
a sentiment often strongest in those who have no subject 
of worldly pride but their colour; and the philosophy of 
the clergy and other professional men who constituted 
what in some countries is called the intellectual class. 
These influences resulted in a rare uniformity of opinion 
that slavery was right and all attacks on it were mon- 
strous, that the Southern States were free to secede and 
form, if they chose, a new Confederacy, and that they 
ought to do this if the moment should arrive when they 
could not otherwise safeguard their interests. Doubtless 
there were leading men who had thought over the matter 
in advance of the rest and taken counsel together long 
before, but the fact seems to be that such leaders now 
found their followers in advance of them. Jefferson 
Davis, by far the most commanding man among them, 
now found himself — certainly it served him right — 



SECESSION 199 

anxiously counselling delay, and spending nights in prayer 
before he made his farewell speech to the Senate in 
words of greater dignity and good feeling than seem to 
comport with the fanatical narrowness of his view and 
the progressive warping of his determined character to 
which it condemned him. Whatever fundamental loyalty 
to the Union existed in any man's heart there were 
months of debate in which it found no organised and 
hardly any audible expression. The most notable stand 
against actual secession was that which was made in 
Georgia by Stephens; he was determined and outspoken, 
but he proceeded wholly upon the ground that secession 
was premature. And this instance is significant of some- 
thing further. It has been said that discussion and voting 
were not free, and it would be altogether unlikely that 
their freedom should in no cases be infringed, but there 
is no evidence that this charge was widely true. It is 
surely significant of the general temper of the South, 
and most honourable to it, that Stephens, who thus strug- 
gled against secession at that moment, was chosen Vice- 
President of the Southern Confederacy. 

By February 4, 1861, the States of Mississippi, 
Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana had followed 
South Carolina by passing Ordinances of Secession, and 
on that date representatives of these States met at Mont- 
gomery in Alabama to found a new Confederacy. Texas, 
where considerable resistance was offered by Governor 
Houston, the adventurous leader under whom that State 
had separated from Mexico, was in process of passing the 
like Ordinance. Virginia and North Carolina, which lie 
north of the region where cotton prevails, and with them 
their western neighbour Tennessee, and Arkansas, yet 
further west and separated from Tennessee by the Mis- 
sissippi River, did not secede till after Lincoln's inaugura- 
tion and the outbreak of war. But the position of Vir- 
ginia (except for its western districts) admitted of very 
little doubt, and that of Tennessee and North Carolina 
was known to be much the same. Virginia took a historic 
pride in the Union, and its interest in slavery was not 



200 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

quite the same as that of the cotton States, yet its strongest 
social ties were to the South. This State was now en- 
gaged in a last idle attempt to keep itself and other border 
States in the Union, with some hope also that the de- 
parted States might return; and on this same February 
6, a " Peace Convention," invited by Virginia and at- 
tended by delegates from twenty-one States, met at Wash- 
ington with ex-President Tyler in the chair; but for 
Virginia it was all along a condition of any terms of 
agreement that the right of any State to secede should be 
fully acknowledged. 

The Congress of the seceding States, which met at 
Montgomery, was described by Stephens as, " taken all 
in all, the noblest, soberest, most intelligent, and most 
conservative body I was ever in." It has been remarked 
that Southern politicians of the agitator type were not 
sent to it. It adopted a provisional Constitution modelled 
largely upon that of the United States. Jefferson Davis, 
who had retired to his farm, was sent for to become 
President; Stephens, as already said, became Vice-Presi- 
dent. The delegates there were to continue in session for 
the present as the regular Congress. Whether sobered by 
the thought that they were acting in the eyes of the world, 
or in accordance with their own prevailing sentiment, 
these men, some of whom had before urged the revival 
of the slave trade, now placed in their Constitution a 
perpetual prohibition of it, and when, as a regular legis- 
lature, they afterwards passed a penal statute which car- 
ried out this intention inadequately, President Davis 
conscientiously vetoed it and demanded a more satis- 
factory measure. At his inauguration the Southern Presi- 
dent delivered an address, typical of that curious blend- 
ing of propriety and insincerity, of which the politics of 
that period in America had offered many examples. It 
may seem incredible, but it contained no word of slavery, 
but recited in dignified terms how the South had been 
driven to separation by " wanton aggression on the part 
of others," and after it had u vainly endeavoured to 
secure tranquillity." The new Southern Congress now 



SECESSION 201 

resolved to take over the forts and other property in the 
seceded States that had belonged to the Union, and the 
first Confederate general, Beauregard, was sent to 
Charleston to hover over Fort Sumter. 

3. The Inauguration of Lincoln. 

The first necessary business of the President-elect, 
while he watched the gathering of what Emerson named 
" the hurricane in which he was called to the helm, ,, was 
to construct a strong Cabinet, to which may be added 
the seemingly unnecessary business forced upon him of 
dealing with a horde of pilgrims who at once began 
visiting him to solicit some office or, in rarer cases, to 
press their disinterested opinions. His Cabinet, designed 
in principle, as has been said, while he was waiting in 
the telegraph office for election returns, was actually con- 
structed with some delay and hesitation. Lincoln could 
not know personally all the men he invited to join him, 
but he proceeded with the view of conjoining in his ad- 
ministration representatives of the chief shades of opinion 
which in this critical time it would be his supreme duty 
to hold together. Not only different shades of opinion, 
but the local sentiment of different districts had to be 
considered; he once complained that if the twelve 
Apostles had to be chosen nowadays the principle of 
locality would have to be regarded ; but at this time there 
was very solid reason why different States should be con- 
tented and why he should be advised as to their feelings. 
His own chief rivals for the Presidency offered a good 
choice from both these points of view. They were 
Seward of New York, Chase of Ohio, Bates of Missouri, 
Cameron of Pennsylvania. Seward and Chase were both 
able and outstanding men : the former was in a sense the 
old Republican leader, but was more and more coming to 
be regarded as the typical " Conservative, " or cautious 
Republican; Chase on the other hand was a leader of 
the " Radicals," who were " stern and unbending " in 
their attitude towards slavery and towards the South. 



202 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

These two must be got and kept together if possible. 
Bates was a good and capable man who moreover came 
from Missouri, a border slave State, where his influence 
was much to be desired. He became Attorney-General. 
Cameron, an unfortunate choice as it turned out, was a 
very wealthy business man of Pennsylvania, representa- 
tive of the weighty Protectionist influence there. After 
he had been offered office, which had been without Lin- 
coln's authority promised him in the Republican Con- 
vention, Lincoln was dismayed by representations that 
he was u a bad, corrupted man"; he wrote a curious 
letter asking Cameron to refuse his offer; Cameron in- 
stead produced evidence of the desire of Pennsylvania for 
him; Lincoln stuck to his offer; the old Whig element 
among Republicans, the Protectionist element, and above 
all, the friends of the indispensable Seward, would other- 
wise have been outweighted in the Cabinet. Cameron 
eventually became for a time Secretary of War. To 
these Lincoln, upon somebody's strong representations, 
tried, without much hope, to add some distinctly Southern 
politician. The effort, of course, failed. Ultimately the 
Cabinet was completed by the addition of Caleb Smith 
of Indiana as Secretary of the Interior, Gideon Welles 
of Connecticut as Secretary of the Navy, and Mont- 
gomery Blair of Maryland as Postmaster-General. 
Welles, with the guidance of a brilliant subordinate, Fox, 
served usefully, was very loyal to Lincoln, had an an- 
tipathy to England which was dangerous, and kept very 
diligently a diary for which we may be grateful now. 
Blair was a vehement, irresponsible person with an 
influential connection, and, which was important, his 
influence and that of his family lay in Maryland and 
other border slave States. Of all these men, Seward, 
Secretary of State — that is, Foreign Minister and some- 
thing more — and Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, most 
concern us. Lincoln's offer to Seward was made and 
accepted in terms that did credit to both men, and Seward, 
still smarting at his own defeat, was admirably loyal. But 
his friends, though they had secured the appointment of 



SECESSION 203 

Cameron to support them, thought increasingly ill of the 
prospects of a Cabinet which included the Radical Chase. 
On the very night before his inauguration Lincoln re- 
ceived from Seward, who had just been helping to revise 
his Inaugural Address, a letter withdrawing his ac- 
ceptance of office. By some not clearly recorded ex- 
ercise of that great power over men, which, if with some 
failures, was generally at his command, he forced Seward 
to see that the unconditional withdrawal of this letter 
was his public duty. It must throughout what follows be 
remembered that Lincoln's first and most constant duty 
was to hold together the jarring elements in the North 
which these jarring elements in his own Cabinet repre- 
sented; and it was one of his great achievements that he 
kept together, for as long as was needful, able but dis- 
cordant public servants who could never have combined 
together without him. 

On February n, 1861, Lincoln, standing on the gallery 
at the end of a railway car, upon the instant of depar- 
ture from the home to which he never returned, said to 
his old neighbours (according to the version of his speech 
which his private secretary got him to dictate immediately 
after) : " My friends, no one, not in my situation, can 
appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To 
this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every- 
thing. Here I have lived for a quarter of a century, and 
have passed from a young to an old man. Here my 
children have been born and one is buried. I now leave, 
not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with 
a task before me greater than that which rested upon 
Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine 
Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With 
that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can 
go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for 
good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To 
His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you 
will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell. ,, 

He was, indeed, going to a task not less great than 
Washington's, but he was going to it with a preparation 



204 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

in many respects far inferior to his. For the last eight 
years he had laboured as a public speaker, and in a 
measure as a party leader, and had displayed and de- 
veloped comprehension, perhaps unequalled, of some of 
the larger causes which mould public affairs. But, except 
in sheer moral discipline, those years had done nothing to 
supply the special training which he had previously lacked, 
for high executive office. In such office at such a time 
ready decision in an obscure and passing situation may 
often be a not less requisite than philosophic grasp either 
of the popular mind or of eternal laws. The powers 
which he had hitherto shown would still be needful to 
him, but so too would other powers which he had never 
practised in any comparable position, and which nature 
does not in a moment supply. Any attempt to judge of 
Lincoln's Presidency — and it can only be judged at all 
when it has gone on some way — must take account, not 
perhaps so much of his inexperience, as of his own 
reasonable consciousness of it and his great anxiety to use 
the advice of men who were in any way presumably more 
competent. 

He deliberately delayed his arrival in Washington and 
availed himself of official invitations to stay at four 
great towns and five State capitals which he could con- 
veniently pass on his way. The journey abounded in 
small incidents and speeches, some of which exposed him 
to a little ridicule in the press, though they probably 
created an undercurrent of sympathy for him. Near one 
station where the train stopped lived a little girl he knew, 
who had recently urged upon him to wear a beard or 
whiskers. To this dreadful young person, and to that 
persistent good nature of his which was now and then 
fatuous, was due the ill-designed hairy ornamentation 
which during his Presidency hid the really beautiful 
modelling of his jaw and chin. He enquired for her at 
the station, had her fetched from the crowd, claimed her 
praise for this supposed improvement, and kissed her in 
presence of the press. In New York he was guilty of a 
more sinister and tragic misfeasance. In that city, where, 



SECESSION 205 

if it may be said with respect, there has existed from of 
old a fashionable circle not convinced of its own gentility 
and insisting the more rigorously on minor decorum, 
Lincoln went to the opera, and history still deplores 
that this misguided man went there and sat there with 
his large hands in black kid gloves. Here perhaps it is 
well to say that the educated world of the Eastern 
States, including those who privately deplored Lincoln's 
supposed unfitness, treated its untried chief magistrate 
with that engrained good breeding to which it was utterly 
indifferent how plain a man he might be. His lesser 
speeches as he went were unstudied appeals to loyalty, 
with very simple avowals of inadequacy to his task, and 
expressions of reliance on the people's support when he 
tried to do his duty. To a man who can sometimes speak 
from the heart and to the heart as Lincoln did it is per- 
haps not given to be uniformly felicitous. Among these 
speeches was that delivered at Philadelphia, which has 
already been quoted, but most of them were not con- 
sidered felicitous at the time. They were too unpre- 
tentious. Moreover, they contained sentences which 
seemed to understate the gravity of the crisis in a way 
which threw doubt on his own serious statesmanship. 
Whether they were felicitous or not, the intention of 
these much-criticised utterances was the best proof of his 
statesmanship. He would appeal to the steady loyalty 
of the North, but he was not going to arouse its passion. 
He assumed to the last that calm reflection might prevail 
in the South, which was menaced by nothing but " an 
artificial crisis." He referred to war as a possibility, but 
left no doubt of his own wish by all means to avoid it, 
" There will," he said, " be no bloodshed unless it be 
forced on the Government. The Government will not 
use force unless force is used against it." 

Before he passed through Baltimore he received 
earnest communications from Seward and from General 
Scott Each had received trustworthy information of 
a plot, which existed, to murder him in that city. Owing 
to their warnings he went through Baltimore secretly at 



206 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

night, so that his arrival in Washington, on February 23, 
was unexpected. This was his obvious duty, and nobody 
who knew him was ever in doubt of his personal intre- 
pidity; but of course it helped to damp the effect of what 
many people would have been glad to regard as a 
triumphal progress. 

On March 4, 1861, old Buchanan came in his carriage 
to escort his successor to the inaugural ceremony, where 
it was the ironical fate of Chief Justice Taney to ad- 
minister the oath to a President who had already gone 
far to undo his great work. Yet a third notable Democrat 
was there to do a pleasant little act. Douglas, Lincoln's 
defeated rival, placed himself with a fine ostentation by 
his side, and, observing that he was embarrassed as to 
where to put his new tall hat and preposterous gold- 
knobbed cane, took charge of these encumbrances before 
the moment arrived for the most eagerly awaited of all 
his speeches. Lincoln had submitted his draft of his 
" First Inaugural " to Seward, and this draft with 
Seward's abundant suggestions of amendment has been 
preserved. It has considerable literary interest, and, 
by the readiness with which most of Seward's suggestions 
were adopted, and the decision with which some, and 
those not the least important, were set aside by Lincoln, 
it illustrates well the working relation which, after one 
short struggle, was to be established between these two 
men. By Seward's advice Lincoln added to an otherwise 
dry speech some concluding paragraphs of emotional ap- 
peal. The last sentence of the speech, which alone is 
much remembered, is Seward's in the first conception of 
it, Seward's in the slightly hackneyed phrase with which 
it ends, Lincoln's alone in the touch of haunting beauty 
which is on it. 

His u First Inaugural " was by general confession an 
able state paper, setting forth simply and well a situa- 
tion with which we are now familiar. It sets out dis- 
passionately the state of the controversy on slavery, lays 
down with brief argument the position that the Union is 
indissoluble, and proceeds to define the duty of the Gov- 



SECESSION 207 

ernment in face of an attempt to dissolve it. " The 
power," he said, " confided to me will be used to hold, 
occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to 
the Government, and to collect the duties on imports; 
but beyond what may be necessary for these objects there 
will be no invasion, no using of force against or among 
the people anywhere. The mails, unless repelled, will 
continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union." He 
proceeded to set out what he conceived to be the im- 
possibility of real separation; the intimate relations be- 
tween the peoples of the several States must still con- 
tinue; they would still remain for adjustment after any 
length of warfare; they could be far better adjusted in 
Union than in enmity. He concluded : " In your hands, 
my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the 
momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not 
assail you. You can have no conflict without being your- 
selves the aggressors. I am loath to close. We are not 
enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though 
passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds 
of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching 
from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living 
heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet 
swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as 
surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." 

4. The Outbreak of War. 

Upon the newly-inaugurated President there now 
descended a swarm of office-seekers. The Republican 
party had never been in power before, and these patriotic 
people exceeded in number and voracity those that had 
assailed any American President before. To be acces- 
sible to all such was the normal duty of a President; it 
was perhaps additionally incumbent on him at this time. 
When in the course of nature the number of office-seekers 
abated, they were succeeded, as will be seen, by suppli- 
cants of another kind, whose petitions were often really 
harrowing. The horror of this enduring visitation has 



208 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

been described by Artemus Ward in terms which Lincoln 
himself could not have improved upon. His classical 
treatment of the subject is worth serious reference; for 
it should be realised that Lincoln, who had both to learn 
his new trade of statecraft and to exercise it in a terrible 
emergency, did so with a large part of each day neces- 
sarily consumed by worrying and distasteful tasks of a 
much paltrier kind. 

On the day after the Inauguration came word from 
Major Anderson at Fort Sumter that he could only hold 
out a few weeks longer unless reinforced and provisioned. 
With it came to Lincoln the opinion of General Scott, 
that to relieve Fort Sumter now would require a force of 
20,000 men, which did not exist. The Cabinet was sum- 
moned with military and naval advisers. The sailors 
thought they could throw men and provisions into Fort 
Sumter; the soldiers said the ships would be destroyed 
by the Confederate batteries. Lincoln asked his Cabinet 
whether, assuming it to be feasible, it was politically ad- 
visable now to provision Fort Sumter. Blair said yes 
emphatically; Chase said yes in a qualified way. The 
other five members of the Cabinet said no; General Scott 
had given his opinion, as on a military question, that the 
fort should now be evacuated; they argued that the evacu- 
ation of this one fort would be recognised by the country 
as merely a military necessity arising from the neglect 
of the last administration. Lincoln reserved his decision. 

Let us conceive the effect of a decision to evacuate Fort 
Sumter. South Carolina had for long claimed it as a 
due acknowledgment of its sovereign and independent 
rights, and for no other end; the Confederacy now 
claimed it and its first act had been to send Beauregard 
to threaten the fort. Even Buchanan had ended by with- 
standing these claims. The assertion that he would hold 
these forts had been the gist of Lincoln's Inaugural. This 
was the one fort that was in the eyes of the Northern 
public or the Southern public either; they probably never 
realised that there were other forts, Fort Pickens, for 
example, on the Gulf of Mexico, which the administra* 



SECESSION 209 

tion was prepared to defend. And now it was proposed 
that Lincoln, who had put down his foot with a bang 
yesterday, should take it up with a shuffle to-day. And 
Lincoln reserved his judgment; and, which is much more, 
went on reserving it till the question nearly settled itself 
to his disgrace. 

Lincoln lacked here, it would seem, not by any means 
the qualities of the trained administrator, but just that 
rough perception and vigour which untaught genius might 
be supposed to possess. The passionate Jackson (who, 
ljy the way, was a far more educated man in the respects 
which count) would not have acted so. Lincoln, it is 
true, had declared that he would take no provocative 
step — " In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-country- 
men, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil 
war," and the risk which he would have taken by over- 
ruling that day the opinion of the bulk of his Cabinet 
based on that of his chief military adviser is obvious, but 
it seems to have been a lesser risk than he did take in 
delaying so long to overrule his Cabinet. It is precisely 
characteristic of his strength and of his weakness that 
he did not at once yield to his advisers ; that he long con- 
tinued weighing the matter undisturbed by the danger 
of delay; that he decided as soon as and no sooner than 
he felt sure as to the political results, which alone here 
mattered, for the military consequences amounted to 
nothing. 

This story was entangled from the first with another 
difficult story. Commissioners from the Southern Con- 
federacy came to Washington and sought interviews with 
Seward; they came to treat for the recognition of the 
Confederacy and the peaceful surrender of forts and the 
like within its borders. Meanwhile the action of Virginia 
was in the balance, and the " Peace Convention/' sum- 
moned by Virginia, still " threshing again," as Lowell 
said, " the already twice-threshed straw of debate.'' The 
action of Virginia and of other border States, about which 
Lincoln was intensely solicitous, would certainly depend 
upon the action of the Government towards the States 



2io ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

that had already seceded. Might it not be well that the 
Government should avoid immediate conflict with South 
Carolina about Fort Sumter, though conflict with the 
Confederacy about Fort Pickens and the rest would still 
impend? Was it not possible that conflict could be staved 
off till an agreement could be reached with Virginia and 
the border States, which would induce the seceded States 
to return? These questions were clearly absurd, but they 
were as clearly natural, and they greatly exercised Seward. 
Disappointed at not being President and equally dis- 
turbed at the prospect of civil war, but still inclined to 
large and sanguine hopes, he was rather anxious to take 
things out of Lincoln's hands and very anxious to serve 
his country as the great peacemaker. Indirect negotia- 
tions now took place between him and the Southern Com- 
missioners, who of course could not be officially recog- 
nised, through the medium of two Supreme Court 
Judges, especially one Campbell, who was then in 
Washington. Seward was quite loyal to Lincoln and 
told him in a general way what he was doing; he was 
also candid with Campbell and his friends, and explained 
to them his lack of authority, but he talked freely and 
rashly of what he hoped to bring about. Lincoln gave 
Seward some proper cautions and left him all proper 
freedom; but it is possible that he once told Douglas 
that he intended, at that moment, to evacuate Fort Sum- 
ter. The upshot of the matter is that the decision of 
the Government was delayed by negotiations which, as it 
ought to have known, could come to nothing, and that 
the Southern Government and the Commissioners, after 
they had got home, thought they had been deceived ii? 
these negotiations. 

Discussions were still proceeding as to Fort Sumter 
when a fresh difficulty arose for Lincoln, but one which 
enabled him to become henceforth master in his Cabinet. 
The strain of Seward's position upon a man inclined to 
be vain and weak can easily be imagined, but the sudden 
vagary in which it now resulted was surprising. Upon 
April i he sent to Lincoln " Some Thoughts for the Presi- 



SECESSION 211 

dent's Consideration." In this paper, after deploring 
what he described as the lack of any policy so far, and 
defining, in a way that does not matter, his attitude as 
to the forts in the South, he proceeded thus : " I would 
demand explanations from Great Britain and Russia, 
and send agents into Canada, Mexico, and Central 
America, to raise a vigorous spirit of independence on 
this continent against European intervention, and if 
satisfactory explanations are not received from Spain and 
France, would convene Congress and declare war 
against them." In other words, Seward would seek to 
end all domestic dissensions by suddenly creating out of 
nothing a dazzling foreign policy. But this was not the 
only point, even if it was the main point; he proceeded: 
" Either the President must do it " (that is the sole con- 
duct of this policy) " himself, or devolve it on some 
member of his Cabinet. It is not my especial province. 
But I neither seek to evade nor assume responsibility." 
In other words, Seward put himself forward as the sole 
director of the Government. In his brief reply Lincoln 
made no reference whatever to Seward's amazing pro- 
gramme. He pointed out that the policy so far, as to 
which Seward had complained, was one in which Seward 
had entirely concurred. As to the concluding demand 
that some one man, and that man Seward, should control 
all policy, he wrote, " If this must be done, I must do it. 
When a general line of policy is adopted, I apprehend 
there is no danger of its being changed without good 
reason, or continuing to be a subject of unnecessary de- 
bate ; still, upon points arising in its progress I wish, and 
suppose I am entitled to have, the advice of all the 
Cabinet." Seward was not a fool, far from it; he was 
one of the ablest men in America, only at that moment 
strained and excited beyond the limits of his good sense. 
Lincoln's quiet answer sobered him then and for ever 
after. He showed a generous mind; he wrote to his 
wife soon after : " Executive force and vigour are rare 
qualities; the President is the best of us." And Lincoln's 
generosity was no less; his private secretary, Nicolay, 



212 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

saw these papers; but no other man knew anything of 
Seward's abortive rebellion against Lincoln till after they 
both were dead. The story needs no explanation, but 
the more attentively all the circumstances are considered, 
the more Lincoln's handling of this emergency, which 
threatened the ruin of his Government, throws into shade 
the weakness he had hitherto shown. 

Lincoln was thus in a stronger position when he finally 
decided as to Fort Sumter. It is unnecessary to follow 
the repeated consultations that took place. There were 
preparations for possible expeditions both to Fort Sumter 
and to Fort Pickens, and various blunders about them, 
and Seward made some trouble by officious interference 
about them. An announcement was sent to the Gov- 
ernor of South Carolina that provisions would be sent 
to Fort Sumter and he was assured that if this was un- 
opposed no further steps would be taken. What chiefly 
concerns us is that the eventual decision to send provi- 
sions but not troops to Fort Sumter was Lincoln's de- 
cision; but that it was not taken till after Senators and 
Congressmen had made clear to him that Northern 
opinion would support him. It was the right decision, 
for it conspicuously avoided the appearance of provo- 
cation, while it upheld the right of the Union ; but it was 
taken perilously late, and the delay exposed the Govern- 
ment to the risk of a great humiliation. 

An Alabama gentleman had urged Jefferson Davis 
that the impending struggle must not be delayed. " Un- 
less," he said, " you sprinkle blood in the face of the 
people of Alabama, they will be back in the old Union 
in ten days." There is every reason to suppose that 
the gentleman's statement as to the probable collapse 
of the South was mere rhetoric, but it seems that his 
advice led to orders being sent to Beauregard to reduce 
Fort Sumter. Beauregard sent a summons to Ander- 
son; Anderson, now all but starved out, replied that 
unless he received supplies or instructions he would sur- 
render on April 15. Whether by Beauregard's orders 
or through some misunderstanding, the Confederate 



SECESSION 213 

batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter on April 12. Fort 
Sumter became untenable on the next day, when the 
relief ships, which Anderson had been led to expect 
sooner, but which could in no case really have helped 
him, were just appearing in the offing. Anderson very 
properly capitulated. On Sunday, April 14, 1861, he 
marched out with the honours of war. The Union flag 
had been fired upon in earnest by the Confederates, and, 
leaving Virginia and the States that went with it to join 
the Confederacy if they chose, the North sprang to arms. 
In the events which had led up to the outbreak of 
war Abraham Lincoln had played a part more admirable 
and more decisive in its effect than his countrymen could 
have noted at the time or perhaps have appreciated since. 
He was confronted now with duties requiring mental 
gifts of a different kind from those which he had hitherto 
displayed, and with temptations to which he had not yet 
been exposed. In a general sense the greatness of mind 
and heart which he unfolded under fierce trial does not 
need to be demonstrated to-day. Yet in detail hardly an 
action of his Presidency is exempt from controversy; nor 
is his many-sided character one of those which men 
readily flatter themselves that they understand. There 
are always, moreover, those to whom it is a marvel how 
any great man came by his name. The particular trib- 
ute, which in the pages that follow it is desired to pay 
to him, consists in the careful examination of just those 
actions and just those qualities of his upon which candid 
detraction has in fact fastened, or on which candid ad- 
miration has pronounced with hesitancy. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 

In recounting the history of Lincoln's Presidency, it 
will be necessary to mark the course of the Civil War 
stage by stage as we proceed. There are, however, one 
or two general features of the contest with which it 
may be well to deal by way of preface. 

It has seldom happened that a people entering upon a 
great war have understood at the outset what the char- 
acter of that war would be. When the American Civil 
War broke out the North expected an easy victory, but, 
as disappointment came soon and was long maintained, 
many clever people adopted the opinion, which early 
prevailed in Europe, that there was no possibility of 
their success at all. At the first the difficulty of the task 
was unrecognised; under early and long-sustained dis- 
appointment the strength by which those difficulties could 
be overcome began to be despaired of without reason. 

The North, after several slave States, which were at 
first doubtful, had adhered to it, had more than double 
the population of the South; of the Southern population 
a very large part were slaves, who, though industrially 
useful, could not be enlisted. In material resources the 
superiority of the North was no less marked, and its 
material wealth grew during the war to a greater extent 
than had perhaps ever happened to any other belligerent 
power. These advantages were likely to be decisive in 
the end, if the North could and would endure to the end. 
But at the very beginning these advantages simply did 
not tell at all, for the immediately available military 
force of the North was insignificant, and that of the 
South clearly superior to it; and even when they began 
to tell, it was bound to be very long before their full 
weight could be brought to bear. And the object which 

214 



THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 215 

was to be obtained was supremely difficult of attainment. 
It was not a defeat of the South which might result in 
the alteration of a frontier, the cession of some Colonies, 
the payment of an indemnity, and such like matters; it 
was a conquest of the South so complete that the Union 
could be restored on a firmer basis than before. Any 
less result than this would be failure in the war. And 
the country, to be thus completely conquered by an un- 
military people of nineteen millions, was of enormous 
extent: leaving out of account the huge outlying State of 
Texas, which is larger than Germany, the remaining 
Southern States which joined in the Confederacy have 
an area somewhat larger than that of Germany, Austria- 
Hungary, Holland, and Belgium put together; and this 
great region had no industrial centres or other points of 
such great strategic importance that by the occupation 
of them the remaining area could be dominated. The 
feat which the Northern people eventually achieved has 
been said by the English historians of the war (perhaps 
with some exaggeration) to have been " a greater one 
than that which Napoleon attempted to his own undoing 
when he invaded Russia in 1812." 

On the other hand, the South was in some respects 
very favourably placed for resisting invasion from the 
North. The Southern forces during most of the war 
were, in the language of military writers, operating on 
interior lines; that is, the different portions of them lay 
nearer to one another than did the different portions of 
the Northern forces, and could be more quickly brought 
to converge on the same point; the country abounded in 
strong positions for defence which could be held by a 
relatively small force, while in every invading movement 
the invaders had to advance long distances from the 
base, thus exposing their lines of communication to at- 
tack. The advantage of this situation, if competent use 
were made of it, was bound to go very far towards com- 
pensating for inferiority of numbers; the North could 
not make its superior numbers on land tell in any rapidly 
decisive fashion without exposing itself to dangerous 



216 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

counter-strokes. In naval strength its superiority was 
asserted almost from the first, and by cutting off foreign 
supplies caused the Southern armies to suffer severe pri- 
vations before the war was half through; but its full 
effect could only be produced very slowly. Thus, if its 
people were brave and its leaders capable, the South was 
by no means in so hopeless a case as might at first have 
appeared; with good fortune it might hope to strike its 
powerful antagonist some deadly blow before that an- 
tagonist could bring its strength to bear; and even if this 
hope failed, a sufficiently tenacious defence might well 
wear down the patience of the North. 

As soldiers the Southerners started with a superiority 
which the Northerners could only overtake slowly. If 
each people were taken in the mass, the proportion of 
Southerners bred to an outdoor life was higher. Gener- 
ally speaking, if not exactly more frugal, they were far 
less used to living comfortably. Above all, all classes 
of people among them were still accustomed to think of 
fighting as a normal and suitable occupation for a man; 
while the prevailing temper of the North thought of 
man as meant for business, and its higher temper was 
apt to think of fighting as odious and war out of date. 
This, like the other advantages of the South, was transi- 
tory; before very long Northerners who became soldiers 
at a sacrifice of inclination, from the highest spirit of 
patriotism or in the methodic temper in which business 
has to be done, would become man for man as good 
soldiers as the Southerners; but the original superiority 
of the Southerners would continue to have a moral effect 
in their own ranks and on the mind of the enemy, more 
especially of the enemy's generals, even after its cause 
had ceased to exist; and herein the military advantage of 
the South was undoubtedly, through the first half of the 
war, considerable. 

In the matter of leadership the South had certain very 
real and certain other apparent but probably delusive 
advantages. The United States had no large number of 
trained military officers^ still capable of active service. 



THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 217 

The armies of the North and South alike had to be 
commanded and staffed to a great extent by men who 
first studied their profession in that war; and the lack 
of ripe military judgment was likely to be felt most in 
the higher commands where the forces to be employed 
and co-ordinated were largest. The South secured what 
may be called its fair proportion of the comparatively 
few officers, but it was of tremendous moment that, 
among the officers who> when the war began, were recog- 
nised as competent, two, who sadly but in simple loyalty 
to the State of Virginia took the Southern side, were 
men of genius. The advantages of the South would have 
been no advantages without skill and resolution to make 
use of them. The main conditions of the war — the vast 
space, the difficulty in all parts of it of moving troops, 
the generally low level of military knowledge — were all 
such as greatly enhance the opportunities of the most 
gifted commander. Lee and " Stonewall " Jackson thus 
became, the former throughout the war, the latter till 
he was killed in the summer of 1863, factors of primary 
importance in the struggle. Wolseley, who had, besides 
studying their record, conversed both with Lee and with 
Moltke, thought Lee even greater than Moltke, and the 
military writers of our day speak of him as one of the 
great commanders of history. As to Jackson, Lee's 
belief in him is sufficient testimony to his value. And the 
good fortune of the South was not confined to these two 
signal instances. Most of the Southern generals who 
appeared early in the war could be retained in important 
commands to the end. 

The South might have seemed at first equally fortu- 
nate in the character of the Administration at the back 
of the generals. An ascendency was at once conceded to 
Jefferson Davis, a tried political leader, to which Lincoln 
had to win his way, and the past experiences of the two 
men had been very different. The operations of war 
in which Lincoln had taken part were confined, according 
to his own romantic account in a speech in Congress, to 
stealing ducks and onions from the civil population; his 



218 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Ministers were as ignorant in the matter as he; their 
military adviser, Scott, was so infirm that he had soon 
to retire, and it proved most difficult to replace him. 
Jefferson Davis, on the other hand, started with knowl- 
edge of affairs, including military affairs; he had been 
Secretary of War in Pierce's Cabinet and Chairman of 
the Senate Committee on War since then; above all, he 
had been a soldier and had commanded a regiment with 
some distinction in the Mexican War. It is thought that 
he would have preferred a military command to the 
Presidency of the Confederacy, and as his own experi- 
ence of actual war was as great as that of his gen- 
erals, he can hardly be blamed for a disposition to inter- 
fere with them at the beginning. But military historians, 
while criticising (perhaps a little hastily) all Lincoln's 
interventions in the affairs of war up to the time when 
he found generals whom he trusted, insist that Davis' 
systematic interference was far more harmful to his 
cause; and Wolseley, who watched events closely from 
Canada and who visited the Southern Army in 1863, is 
most emphatic in this opinion. He interfered with Lee 
to an extent which nothing but Lee's devoted friendship 
and loyalty could have made tolerable. He put himself 
into relations of dire hostility with Joseph Johnston, 
and in 1864 suspended him in the most injudicious man- 
ner. Above all, when the military position of the South 
had begun to be acutely perilous, Jefferson Davis neither 
devised for himself, nor allowed his generals to devise, 
any bold policy by which the chance that still remained 
could be utilised. His energy of will showed itself in the 
end in nothing but a resolution to protract bloodshed 
after it had certainly become idle. 

If we turn to the political conditions, on which, in any 
but a short war, so much depends, the South will appear 
to have had great advantages. Its people were more 
richly endowed than the mixed and crudely democratic 
multitude of the North, in the traditional aptitude for 
commanding or obeying which enables people to pull 
together in a crisis. And they were united in a cause 



THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 219" 

such as would secure the sustained loyalty of any ordinary 
people under any ordinary leader. For, though it 
was nothing but slavery that led to their assertion 
of independence, from the moment that they found 
themselves involved in war, they were fighting for 
a freedom to which they felt themselves entitled, and 
for nothing else whatever. A few successful en- 
counters at the start tempted the ordinary Southerner 
to think himself a better man than the ordinary North- 
erner, even as the Southern Congressmen felt themselves 
superior to the persons whom the mistaken democracy 
of the North too frequently elected. This claim of in- 
dependence soon acquired something of the fierce pride 
that might have been felt by an ancient nation. But it 
would have been impossible that the Northern people as 
a whole should be similarly possessed by the cause in 
which they fought. They did not seem to be fighting 
for their own liberty, and they would have hated to think 
that they were fighting for conquest. They were fighting 
for the maintenance of a national unity which they held 
dear. The question how far it was worth fighting a 
formidable enemy for the sake of eventual unity with him, 
was bound to present itself. Thus, far from wondering 
that the cause of the Union aroused no fuller devotion 
than it did in the whole lump of the Northern people, we 
may wonder that it inspired with so lofty a patriotism 
men and women in every rank of life who were able to 
leaven that lump. But the political element in this war 
was of such importance as to lead to a startling result; 
the North came nearest to yielding at a time when in a 
military sense its success had become sure. To preserve 
a united North was the greatest and one of the hardest 
of the duties of President Lincoln. 

To a civilian reader the history of the war, in spite of 
the picturesque incidents of many battles, may easily be 
made dreary. Till far on in the lengthy process of sub- 
jecting the South, we might easily become immersed in 
some futile story of how General X. was superseded by 
General Y. in a command, for which neither discovered 



220 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

any purpose but that of not co-operating with General 
Z. And this impression is not merely due to our failure 
to understand the difficulties which confronted these 
gallant officers. The dearth of trained military faculty, 
which was felt at the outset, could only be made good by 
the training which the war itself supplied. Such com- 
manders as Grant and Sherman and Sheridan not only 
could not have been recognised at the beginning of the 
war; they were not then the soldiers that they afterwards 
became. And the want was necessarily very serious in 
the case of the higher commands which required the 
movement of large forces, the control of subordinates 
each of whom must have a wide discretion, and the 
energy of intellect and will necessary for resolving the 
more complex problems of strategy. We are called upon 
to admire upon both sides the devotion of forgotten 
thousands, and to admire upon the side of the South the 
brilliant and daring operations by which in so many bat- 
tles Lee and Jackson defeated superior forces. On the 
Northern side, later on, great generals came to view, but 
it is in the main a different sort of achievement which 
we are called upon to appreciate. An Administration 
appointed to direct a stupendous operation of conquest 
was itself of necessity ill prepared for such a task; behind 
it were a Legislature and a public opinion equally ill pre- 
pared to support and to assist it. There were in its mili- 
tary service many intelligent and many enterprising men, 
but none, at first, so combining intelligence and enter- 
prise that he could grapple with any great responsibility 
or that the civil power would have been warranted in 
reposing complete confidence in him. The history of the 
war has to be recounted in this volume chiefly with a view 
to these difficulties of the Administration. 

One of the most interesting features of the war would, 
in any military study of it, be seen to be the character of 
the troops on both sides. On both sides their individual 
quality was high; on both, circumstances and the dis- 
position of the people combined to make discipline weak. 
This character, common to the two armies, was conspicu- 



THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 221 

ous in many battles of the war, but a larger interest 
attaches to the policy of the two administrations in rais- 
ing and organising their civilian armies. The Southern 
Government, if its proceedings were studied in detail, 
would probably seem to have been better advised at the 
start on matters of military organisation; for instance, it 
had early and long retained a superiority in cavalry which 
was not a mere result of good fortune. But here, too, 
there was an inherent advantage in the very fact that the 
South had started upon a desperate venture. There can 
hardly be a more difficult problem of detail for states- 
men than the co-ordination of military and civil require- 
ments in the raising of an army. But in the South all 
civil considerations merged themselves in the paramount 
necessity of a military success for which all knew the ut- 
most effort was needed. The several States of the South, 
claiming as they did a far larger independence than the 
Northern States, knew that they could only make that 
claim good by being efficient members of the Confed- 
eracy. Thus it was comparatively easy for the Con- 
federate Government to adopt and maintain a consecu- 
tive policy in this matter, and though, from the condi- 
tions of a widely spread agricultural population, volun- 
tary enlistment produced poor results at the beginning 
of the war, it appears to have been easy to introduce 
quite early an entirely compulsory system of a stringent 
kind. 

The introduction of compulsory service in the North 
has its place in our subsequent story. The system that 
preceded it need not be dwelt upon here, because, full of 
instruction as a technical study of it (such as has been 
made by Colonel Henderson) must be, no brief survey 
by an amateur could be useful. It is necessary, however, 
to understand the position in which Lincoln's Adminis- 
tration was placed, without much experience in America, 
or perhaps elsewhere in the world, to guide it. It must 
not be contended, for it cannot be known that the prob- 
lem was fully and duly envisaged by Lincoln on his Cabi- 
net, but it would probably in any case have been impos- 



222 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

sible for them to pursue from the first a consecutive and 
well-thought-out policy for raising an army and keeping 
up its strength. The position of the North differed funda- 
mentally from that of the South; the North experienced 
neither the ardour nor the throes of a revolution; it was 
never in any fear of being conquered, only of not con- 
quering. There was nothing, therefore, which at once 
bestowed on the Government a moral power over the 
country vastly in excess of that which it exercised in 
normal times. This, however, was really necessary to 
it if the problem of the Army was to be handled in the 
way which was desirable from a military point of view. 
Compulsory service could not at first be thought of. It 
was never supposed that the tiny regular Army of the 
United States Government could be raised to any very 
great size by voluntary enlistment, and the limited in- 
crease of it which was attempted was not altogether suc- 
cessful. The existing militia system of the several States 
was almost immediately found faulty and was discarded. 
A great Volunteer Force had to be raised which should 
be under the command of the President, who by the 
Constitution is Commander-in-Chief of the forces of the 
Union, but which must be raised in each State by the 
State Governor (or, if he was utterly wanting, by lead- 
ing local citizens). Now State Governors are not — it 
must be recalled — officers under the President, but inde- 
pendent potentates acting usually in as much detachment 
from him as the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford or Cam- 
bridge from the Board of Education or a Presbyterian 
minister from a bishop. This group of men, for the 
most part able, patriotic, and determined, were there to 
be used and had to be consulted. It follows that the 
policy of the North in raising and organising its armies 
had at first to be a policy evolved between numerous 
independent authorities which never met and were held 
together by a somewhat ignorant public opinion, some- 
times much depressed and sometimes, which was worse, 
oversanguine. It is impossible to judge exactly how ill 
or how well Lincoln, under such circumstances, grappled 



THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 223 

with this particular problem, but many anomalies which 
seem to us preposterous — the raising of raw new regi- 
ments when fine seasoned regiments were short of half 
their strength, and so forth — were in these circumstances 
inevitable. The national system of recruiting, backed 
by compulsion, which was later set up, still required for 
its success the co-operation of State and local authorities 
of this wholly independent character. 

Northern and Southern armies alike had necessarily 
to be commanded to a great extent by amateur officers; 
the number of officers, in the service or retired, who had 
been trained at West Point, was immeasurably too small 
for the needs of the armies. Amateurs had to be called 
in, and not only so, but they had in some cases to be 
given very important commands. The not altogether 
unwholesome tradition that a self-reliant man can turn 
his hand to anything was of course very strong in Amer- 
ica, and the short military annals of the country had been 
thought to have added some illustrious instances to the 
roll of men of peace who have distinguished themselves 
in arms. So a political leader, no matter whether he was 
Democrat or Republican, who was a man of known gen- 
eral capacity, would sometimes at first seem suitable for 
an important command rather than the trained but un- 
known professional soldier who was the alternative. 
Moreover, it seemed foolish not to appoint him, when, as 
sometimes happened, he could bring thousands of recruits 
from his State. The Civil War turned out, however, to 
show the superiority of the duly trained military mind 
in a marked degree. Some West-Pointers of repute of 
course proved incapable, and a great many amateur 
colonels and generals, both North and South, attained 
a very fair level of competence in the service (the few 
conspicuous failures seem to have been quite exceptional) ; 
but, all the same, of the many clever and stirring men 
who then took up soldiering as novices and served for 
four years, not one achieved brilliant success; of the 
generals in the war whose names are remembered, some 
had indeed passed years in civil life, but every one had 



224 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

received a thorough military training in the years of his 
early manhood. It certainly does not appear that the 
Administration was really neglectful of professional 
merit; it hungered to find it; but many appointments must 
at first have been made in a haphazard fashion, for there 
was no machinery for sifting claims. A zealous but un- 
known West-Pointer put under an outsider would be apt 
to write as Sherman did in early days : " Mr. Lincoln 
meant to insult me and the Army " ; and a considerable 
jealousy evidently arose between West-Pointers and ama- 
teurs. It was aggravated by the rivalry between officers 
of the Eastern army and those of the, more largely 
amateur, Western army. The amateurs, too, had some- 
thing to say on their side ; they were apt to accuse West- 
Pointers as a class of a cringing belief that the South 
was invincible. There was nothing unnatural or very 
serious in all this, but political influences which arose later 
caused complaints of this nature to be made the most of, 
and a general charge to be made against Lincoln's Ad- 
ministration of appointing generals and removing them 
under improper political influences. This general charge, 
however, rests upon a limited number of alleged instances, 
and all of these which are of any importance will neces- 
sarily be examined in later chapters. 

It may be useful to a reader who wishes to follow the 
main course of the war carefully, if the chief ways in 
which geographical facts affected it are here summarised 
— necessarily somewhat dryly. Minor operations at out- 
lying points on the coast or in the Far West will be left 
out of account, so also will a serious political considera- 
tion, which we shall later see caused doubt for a time as 
to the proper strategy of the North. 

It must be noted first, startling as it may be to English- 
men who remember the war partly by the exploits of the 
Alabama, that the naval superiority of the North was 
overwhelming. In spite of many gallant efforts by the 
Southern sailors, the North could blockade their coasts 
and could capture most of the Southern ports long before 
its superiority on land was established. Turning then 



THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 225 

to land, we may treat the political frontier between the 
two powers, after a short preliminary stage of war, as 
being marked by the southern boundaries of Maryland, 
West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri, just as they are 
seen on the map to-day. In doing so, we must note that 
at the commencement of large operations parts of Ken- 
tucky and Missouri were occupied by Southern invading 
forces. This frontier is cut, not far from the Atlantic, 
by the parallel mountain chains which make up the Alle- 
ghanies or Appalachians. These in effect separated the 
field of operations into a narrow Eastern theatre of war, 
and an almost boundless Western theatre ; and the opera- 
tions in these two theatres were almost to the end inde- 
pendent of each other. 

In the Eastern theatre of war lies Washington, the 
capital of the Union, a place of great importance to the 
North for obvious reasons, and especially because if it 
fell European powers would be likely to recognise the 
Confederacy. It lies, on the Potomac, right upon the 
frontier; and could be menaced also in the rear, for the 
broad and fertile trough between the mountain chains 
formed by the valley of the Shenandoah River, which 
flows northward to join the Potomac at a point north- 
west of Washington, was in Confederate hands and 
formed a sort of sally-port by which a force from Rich- 
mond could get almost behind Washington. A hundred 
miles south of Washington lay Richmond, which shortly 
became the capital of the Confederates, instead of Mont- 
gomery in Alabama. As a brand-new capital it mattered 
little to the Confederates, though at the very end of the 
war it became their last remaining stronghold. The in- 
tervening country, which was in Southern hands, was 
extraordinarily difficult. The reader may notice on the 
map the rivers with broad estuaries which are its most 
marked features, and with the names of which we shall 
become familiar. The rivers themselves were obstacles 
to an invading Northern army; their estuaries, on the 
other hand, soon afforded it safe communication by sea. 

In the Western theatre of war we must remember first 



226 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the enormous length of frontier in proportion to the pop- 
ulation on either side. This necessarily made the prog- 
ress of Northern invasion slow, and its proper direction 
hard to determine, for diversions could be created by a 
counter-invasion elsewhere along the frontier or a stroke 
at the invaders' communications. The principal feature 
of the whole region is the great waterways, on which the 
same advantages which gave the sea to the North gave 
it also an immense superiority in the river warfare of 
flotillas of gunboats. When the North with its gunboats 
could get control of the Mississippi the South would be 
deprived of a considerable part of its territory and 
resources, and cut off from its last means of trading with 
Europe (save for the relief afforded by blockade-run- 
ners) by being cut off from Mexico and its ports. 
Further, when the North could control the tributaries of 
the Mississippi, especially the Cumberland and the Ten- 
nessee which flow into the great river through the Ohio, 
it would cut deep into the internal communications of the 
South. Against this menace the South could only con- 
tend by erecting powerful fortresses on the rivers, and 
the capture of some of them was the great object of the 
earlier Northern operations. 

The railway system of the South must also be taken 
into account in connection with their waterways. This, 
of course, cannot be seen on a modern map. Perhaps 
the following may make the main points clear. The 
Southern railway system touched the Mississippi and the 
world beyond it at three points only: Memphis, Vicks- 
burg, and New Orleans. A traveller wishing to go, say, 
from Richmond by rail towards the West could have, if 
distance were indifferent to him, a choice of three routes 
for part of the way. He could go through Knoxville in 
Tennessee to Chattanooga in that State, where he had a 
choice of routes further West, or he could take one of 
two alternative lines south into Georgia and thence go 
either to Atlanta or to Columbus in the west of that 
State. Arrived at Atlanta or Columbus, he could pro- 
ceed further West either by making a detour northwards 



THE CONDITIONS OF THE WAR 227 

through Chattanooga or by making a detour southwards 
through the seaport town of Mobile, crossing the har- 
bour by boat. Thus the capture of Chattanooga from 
the South would go far towards cutting the whole South- 
ern railway system in two, and the capture of Mobile 
would complete it. Lastly, we may notice two lines run- 
ning north and south through the State of Mississippi, 
one through Corinth and Meridian, and the other nearer 
the great river. From this and the course of the rivers 
the strategic importance of some of the towns mentioned 
may be partly appreciated. 

The subjugation of the South in fact began by a 
process, necessarily slow and much interrupted, whereby 
having been blockaded by sea it was surrounded by land, 
cut off from its Western territory, and deprived of its 
main internal lines of communication. Richmond, against 
which the North began to move within the first three 
months of the war, did not fall till nearly four years later, 
when the process just described had been completed, and 
when a Northern army had triumphantly progressed, 
wasting the resources of the country as it went, from 
Chattanooga to Atlanta, thence to the Atlantic coast of 
Georgia, and thence northward through the two Caro- 
linas till it was about to join hands with the army assail- 
ing Richmond. Throughout this time the attention of a 
large part of the Northern public and of all those who 
watched the war from Europe was naturally fastened to 
a great extent upon the desperate fighting which occurred 
in the region of Washington and of Richmond and upon 
the ill success of the North in endeavours of unforeseen 
difficulty against the latter city. We shall see, however, 
that the long and humiliating failure of the North in 
this quarter was neither so unaccountable nor nearly so 
important as it appeared. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE OPENING OF THE WAR AND LINCOLN'S 
ADMINISTRATION 

I. Preliminary Stages. 

On the morning after the bombardment of Fort 
Sumter there appeared a Proclamation by the President 
calling upon the Militia of the several States to furnish 
75,000 men for the service of the United States in the 
suppression of an " unlawful combination." Their serv- 
ice, however, would expire by law thirty days after the 
next meeting of Congress, and, in compliance with a fur- 
ther requirement of law upon this subject, the President 
also summoned Congress to meet in extraordinary 
session upon July 4. The Army already in the service of 
the United States consisted of but 16,000 officers and 
men, and, though the men of this force, being less affected 
by State ties than their officers, remained, as did the men 
of the Navy, true almost without exception to their alle- 
giance, all but 3,000 of them were unavailable and scat- 
tered in small frontier forts in the West. A few days 
later, when it became plain that the struggle might long 
outlast the three months of the Militia, the President 
called for Volunteers to enlist for three years' service, 
and perhaps (for the statements are conflicting) some 
300,000 troops of one kind and another had been raised 
by June. 

The affair of Fort Sumter and the President's Procla- 
mation at once aroused and concentrated the whole public 
opinion of the free States in the North and, in an oppo- 
site sense, of the States which had already seceded. The 
border slave States had now to declare for the one side 
or for the other. Virginia as a whole joined the Southern 
Confederacy forthwith, but several Counties in the moun- 

228 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 229^ 

tainous region of the west of that State were strongly for 
the Union. These eventually succeeded with the support 
of Northern troops in separating from Virginia and 
forming the new State of West Virginia. Tennessee also 
joined the South, though in Eastern Tennessee the bulk 
of the people held out for the Union without such good 
fortune as their neighbours in West Virginia. Arkansas 
beyond the Mississippi followed the same example, 
though there were some doubt and division in all parts 
of that State. In Delaware, where the slaves were very 
few, the Governor did not formally comply with the 
President's Proclamation, but the people as a whole re- 
sponded to it. The attitude of Maryland, which almost 
surrounds Washington, kept the Government at the cap- 
ital in suspense and alarm for a while, for both the city 
of Baltimore and the existing State legislature were in- 
clined to the South. In Kentucky and Missouri the State 
authorities were also for the South, and it was only after 
a struggle, and in Missouri much actual fighting, that the 
Unionist majority of the people in each State had its way. 
The secession of Virginia had consequences even more 
important than the loss to the Union of a powerful State. 
General Robert E. Lee, a Virginian, then in Washington, 
was esteemed by General Scott to be the ablest officer in 
the service. Lincoln and his Secretary of War desired 
to confer on him the command of the Army. Lee's 
decision was made with much reluctance and, it seems, 
hesitation. He was not only opposed to the policy of 
secession, but denied the right of a State to secede; yet 
he believed that his absolute allegiance was due to Vir- 
ginia. He resigned his commission in the United States 
Army, went to Richmond, and, in accordance with what 
Wolseley describes as the prevailing principle that had 
influenced most of the soldiers he met in the South, placed 
his sword at the disposal of his own State. The same 
loyalty to Virginia governed another great soldier, 
Thomas J. Jackson, whose historic nickname, " Stone- 
wall," fails to convey the dashing celerity of his move- 
ments. While they both lived these two men were to be 



230 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

linked together in the closest comradeship and mutual 
trust. They sprang from different social conditions and 
were of contrasting types. The epithet Cavalier has been 
fitly enough applied to Lee, and Jackson, after conver- 
sion from the wild courses of his youth, was an austere 
Puritan. To quote again from a soldier's memoirs, 
Wolseley calls Lee "one of the few men who ever seri- 
ously impressed and awed me with their natural, their 
inherent, greatness"; he speaks of his "majesty," and 
of the " beauty," of his character, and of the " sweetness 
of his smile and the impressive dignity of the old-fash- 
ioned style of his address"; "his greatness," he says, 
" made me humble." " There was nothing," he tells us, 
" of these refined characteristics in Stonewall Jackson," 
a man with " huge hands and feet." But he possessed 
" an assured self-confidence, the outcome of his sure trust 
in God. How simple, how humble-minded a man. As 
his impressive eyes met yours unflinchingly, you knew that 
his was an honest heart." To this he adds touches less 
to be expected concerning a Puritan warrior, whose 
Puritanism was in fact inclined to ferocity — how Jack- 
son's " remarkable eyes lit up for the moment with a 
look of real enthusiasm as he recalled the architectural 
beauty of the seven lancet windows in York Minster," 
how " intense " was the " benignity " of his expression, 
and how in him it seemed that " great strength of char- 
acter and obstinate determination were united with ex- 
treme gentleness of disposition and with absolute tender- 
ness towards all about him." Men such as these brought 
to the Southern cause something besides their military* 
capacity; but as to the greatness of that capacity, applied; 
in a war in which the scope was so great for individual 
leaders of genius, there is no question. A civilian reader, 
looking in the history of war chiefly for the evidences of 
personal quality, can at least discern in these two famous 
soldiers the moral daring which in doubtful circumstances 
never flinches from the responsibility of a well-considered 
risk, and, in both their cases as in those of some other 
great commanders, can recognise in this rare and precious 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 231 

attribute the outcome of their personal piety. We shall 
henceforth have to do with the Southern Confederacy and 
its armies, not in their inner history but with sole regard to 
the task which they imposed upon Lincoln and the North. 
But at this parting of the ways a tribute is due to the two 
men, pre-eminent among many devoted people, who, in 
their soldier-like and unreflecting loyalty to their cause, 
gave to it a lustre in which, so far as they can be judged, 
neither its statesmen nor its spiritual guides had a share. 

There were Virginian officers who did not thus go with 
their State. Of these were Scott himself, and G. H. 
Thomas; and Farragut, the great sailor, was from Ten- 
nessee. 

Throughout the free States of the North there took 
place a national uprising of which none who remember it 
have spoken without feeling anew its spontaneous ardour. 
Men flung off with delight the hesitancy of the preceding 
months, and recruiting went on with speed and enthu- 
siasm. Party divisions for the moment disappeared. Old 
Buchanan made public his adhesion to the Government. 
Douglas called upon Lincoln to ask how best he could 
serve the public cause, and, at his request, went down to 
Illinois to guide opinion and advance recruiting there; 
so employed, the President's great rival, shortly after, 
fell ill and died, leaving the leadership of the Democrats 
to be filled thereafter by more scrupulous but less patri- 
otic men. There was exultant confidence in the power of 
the nation to put down rebellion, and those who realised 
the peril in which for many days the capital and the ad- 
ministration were placed were only the more indignantly 
determined. Perhaps the most trustworthy record of 
popular emotions is to be found in popular humorists. 
Shortly after these days Artemus Ward, the author who 
almost vied with Shakespeare in Lincoln's affections, 
relates how the confiscation of his show in the South led 
him to have an interview with Jefferson Davis. " Even 
now," said Davis, in this pleasant fiction, " we have many 
frens in the North." " J. Davis," is the reply, " there's 
your grate mistaik. Many of us was your sincere frends, 



232 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

and thought certin parties amung us was fussin' about 
you and meddlin' with your consarns intirely too much. 
But, J. Davis, the minit you fire a gun at the piece of dry 
goods called the Star-Spangled Banner, the North gits 
up and rises en massy, in defence of that banner. Not 
agin you as individooals — not agin the South even — but 
to save the Hag. We should indeed be weak in the knees, 
unsound in the heart, milk-white in the liver, and soft in 
the hed, if we stood quietly by and saw this glorus 
Govyment smashed to pieces, either by a furrin or a 
intestine foe. The gentle-harted mother hates to take 
her naughty child across her knee, but she knows it is her 
dooty to do it. So we shall hate to whip the naughty 
South, but we must do it if you don't make back tracks 
at onct, and we shall wallup you out of your boots ! " In 
the days which followed, when this prompt chastisement 
could not be effected and it seemed indeed as if the South 
would do most of the whipping, the discordant elements 
which mingled in this unanimity soon showed themselves. 
The minority that opposed the war was for a time silent 
and insignificant, but among the supporters of the war 
there were those who loved the Union and the Constitu- 
tion and who, partly for this very reason, had hitherto 
cultivated the sympathies of the South. These — adher- 
ents mainly of the Democratic party — would desire that 
civil war should be waged with the least possible breach 
of the Constitution, and be concluded with the least pos- 
sible social change; many of them would wish to fight 
not to a finish but to a compromise. On the other hand, 
there were those who loved liberty and hated alike the 
slave system of the South and the arrogance which it 
had engendered. These — the people distinguished within 
the Republican party as Radicals — would pay little heed 
to constitutional restraints in repelling an attack on the 
Constitution, and they would wish from the first to make 
avowed war upon that which caused the war — slavery. 
In the border States there was of course more active sym- 
pathy with the South, and in conflict with this the Radi- 
calism of some of these States became more stalwart and 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 233 

intractable. To such causes of dissension was added as 
time went on sheer fatigue of the war, and strangely 
enough this influence was as powerful with a few Radi- 
cals as it was with the ingrained Democratic partisans. 
They despaired of the result when success at last was 
imminent, and became sick of bloodshed when it passed 
what they presumably regarded as a reasonable amount. 
It was the task of the Administration not only to con- 
duct the war, but to preserve the unity of the North in 
spite of differences and its resolution in spite of disap- 
pointments. Lincoln was in more than one way well fitted 
for this task. Old experience in Illinois and Kentucky 
enabled him to understand very different points of view 
in regard to the cause of the South. The new question 
that was now to arise about slavery was but a particular 
form of the larger question of principle to which he had 
long thought out an answer as firm and as definite as it 
was moderate and in a sense subtle. He had, moreover, 
a quality of heart which, as it seemed to those near him, 
the protraction of the conflict, with its necessary strain 
upon him, only strengthened. In him a tenacity, which 
scarcely could falter in the cause which he judged to be 
right, was not merely pure from bitterness towards his 
antagonists, it was actually bound up with a deep-seated 
kindliness towards them. Whatever rank may be as- 
signed to his services and to his deserts, it is first and 
foremost in these directions, though not in these direc- 
tions alone, that the reader of his story must look for 
them. Upon attentive study he will probably appear as 
the embodiment, in a degree and manner which are alike 
rare, of the more constant and the higher judgment of 
his people. It is plainer still that he embodied the reso- 
lute purpose which underlay the fluctuations upon the 
surface of their political life. The English military his- 
torians, Wood and Edmonds, in their retrospect over the 
course of the war, well sum up its dramatic aspect when 
they say: "Against the great military genius of certain 
of the Southern leaders fate opposed the unbroken reso- 
lution and passionate devotion to the Union, which he 



234 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

worshipped, of the great Northern President. As long 
as he lived, and ruled the people of the North, there 
could be no turning back." 

There are plenty of indications in the literature of the 
time that Lincoln's determination soon began to be widely 
felt and to be appreciated by common people. Literally, 
crowds of people from all parts of the North saw him, 
exchanged a sentence or two, and carried home their 
impressions; and those who were near him record the 
constant fortitude of his bearing, noting as marked ex- 
ceptions the unrestrained words of impatience and half- 
humorous despondency which did on rare occasions escape 
him. In a negative way, too, even the political world 
bore its testimony to this ; his administration was charged 
with almost every other form of weakness, but there 
was never a suspicion that he would give in. Nor again, 
in the severest criticisms upon him by knowledgeable men 
that have been unearthed and collected, does the sugges- 
tion of petty personal aims or of anything but unselfish 
devotion ever find a place. The belief that he could be 
trusted spread itself among plain people, and, given this 
belief, plain people liked him the better because he was 
plain. But if at the distance at which we contemplate 
him, and at which from the moment of his death all 
America contemplated him, certain grand traits emerge, 
it is not for a moment to be supposed that in his life he 
stood out in front of the people as a great leader, or 
indeed as a leader at all, in the manner, say, of Chatham 
or even of Palmerston. Lincoln came to Washington 
doubtless with some deep thoughts which other men had 
not thought, doubtless also with some important knowl- 
edge, for instance of the border States, which many 
statesmen lacked, but he came there a man inexperienced 
in affairs. It was a part of his strength that he knew 
this very well, that he meant to learn, thought he could 
learn, did not mean to be hurried where he had not the 
knowledge to decide, entirely appreciated superior knowl- 
edge in others, and was entirely unawed by it. But Senators 
and Representatives in Congress and Journalists of high 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 235 

standing, as a rule, perceived the inexperience and not 
the strength. The deliberation with which he acted, 
patiently watching events, saying little, listening to all 
sides, conversing with a naivete which was genuine but 
not quite artless, seemingly obdurate to the pressure of 
wise counsels on one side and on the other — all this 
struck many anxious observers as sheer incompetence, 
and when there was just and natural cause for their 
anxiety, there was no established presumption of his 
wisdom to set against it. And this effect was enhanced 
by what may be called his plainness, his awkwardness, 
and actual eccentricity in many minor matters. To many 
intelligent people who met him they were a grievous 
stumbling-block, and though some most cultivated men 
were not at all struck by them, and were pleased instead 
by his ■ ■ seeming sincere, and honest, and steady," or the 
like, it is clear that no one in Washington was greatly 
impressed by him at first meeting. His oddities were 
real and incorrigible. Young John Hay, whom Nicolay, 
his private secretary, introduced as his assistant, a humor- 
ist like Lincoln himself, but with leanings to literary ele- 
gance and a keen eye for social distinctions, loved him 
all along and came to worship him, but irreverent amuse- 
ment is to be traced in his recently published letters, and 
the glimpses which he gives us of " the Ancient " or " the 
Tycoon " when quite at home and quite at his ease fully 
justify him. Lincoln had great dignity and tact for use 
when he wanted them, but he did not always see the use 
of them. Senator Sherman was presented to the new 
President. " So you're John Sherman?" said Lincoln. 
" Let's see if you're as tall as I am. We'll measure." 
The grave politician, who was made to stand back to 
back with him before the company till this interesting 
question was settled, dimly perceived that the intention 
was friendly, but felt that there was a lack of ceremony. 
Lincoln's height was one of his subjects of harmless 
vanity; many tall men had to measure themselves against 
him in this manner, and probably felt like John Sherman. 
On all sorts of occasions and to all sorts of people he 



236 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

would " tell a little story," which was often enough, in 
Lord Lyons' phrase, an " extreme " story. This was 
the way in which he had grown accustomed to be friendly 
in company; it served a purpose when intrusive questions 
had to be evaded, or reproofs or refusals to be given 
without offence. As his laborious and sorrowful task 
came to weigh heavier upon him, his capacity for play of 
this sort became a great resource to him. As his fame 
became established people recognised him as a humorist; 
the inevitable " little story " became to many an endear- 
ing form of eccentricity; but we may be sure it was not 
so always or to everybody. 

"Those," says Carl Schurz, a political exile from 
Prussia, who did good service, military and political, to 
the Northern cause — " those who visited the White 
House — and the White House appeared to be open to 
whosoever wished to enter — saw there a man of un- 
conventional manners, who, without the slightest effort 
to put on dignity, treated all men alike, much like old 
neighbours; whose speech had not seldom a rustic flavour 
about it; who always seemed to have time for a homely 
talk and never to be in a hurry to press business; and 
who occasionally spoke about important affairs of State 
with the same nonchalance — I might almost say irrever- 
ence — with which he might have discussed an every-day 
law case in his office at Springfield, Illinois." 

Thus Lincoln was very far from inspiring general con- 
fidence in anything beyond his good intentions. He is 
remembered as a persenality with a " something " about 
him — the vague phrase is John Brigkt's — which widely 
endeared him, but his was by no means that " magnetic ' 
personality which we might be led to believe was indis- 
pensable in America. Indeed, it is remarkable that to 
some really good judges he remained always unimpres- 
sive. Charles Francis Adams, who during the Civil 
War served his country as well as Minister in London 
as his grandfather had done after the War of Independ- 
ence, lamented to the end that Seward, his immediate 
chief, had to serve under an inferior man; and a more 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 237 

sympathetic man, Lord Lyons, our representative at 
Washington, refers to Lincoln with nothing more than 
an amused kindliness. No detail of his policy has escaped 
fierce criticism, and the man himself while he lived was 
the subject of so much depreciation and condescending 
approval, that we are forced to ask who discovered his 
greatness till his death inclined them to idealise him. 
The answer is that precisely those Americans of trained 
intellect whose title to this description is clearest outside 
America were the first who began to see beneath his 
strange exterior. Lowell, watching the course of public 
events with ceaseless scrutiny; Walt Whitman, sauntering 
in Washington in the intervals of the labour among the 
wounded by which he broke down his robust strength, 
and seeing things as they passed with the sure observa- 
tion of a poet; Motley, the historian of the Dutch Re- 
public, studying affairs in the thick of them at the outset 
of the war, and not less closely by correspondence when 
he went as Minister to Vienna — such men when they 
praised Lincoln after his death expressed a judgment 
which they began to form from the first; a judgment 
which started with the recognition of his honesty, traced 
the evidence of his wisdom as it appeared, gradually and 
not by repentant impulse learned his greatness. And it 
is a judgment large enough to explain the lower estimate 
of Lincoln which certainly had wide currency. Not to 
multiply witnesses, Motley in June, 1861, having seen 
him for the second time, writes : " I went and had an 
hour's talk with Mr. Lincoln. I am very glad of it, for, 
had I not done so, I should have left Washington with 
a very inaccurate impression of the President. I am 
now satisfied that he is a man of very considerable native 
sagacity; and that he has an ingenuous, unsophisticated, 
frank, and noble character. I believe him to be as 
true as steel, and as courageous as true. At the same 
time there is doubtless an ignorance about State matters, 
and particularly about foreign affairs, which he does not 
attempt to conceal, but which we must of necessity regret 
in a man placed in such a position at such a crisis. Never- 



238 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

theless his very modesty in this respect disarms criticism. 
We parted very affectionately, and perhaps I shall never 
set eyes on him again, but I feel that, so far as perfect 
integrity and directness of purpose go, the country will 
be safe in his hands. " Three years had passed, and the 
political world of America was in that storm of general 
dissatisfaction in which not a member of Congress would 
be known as " a Lincoln man," when Motley writes again 
from Vienna to his mother, " I venerate Abraham Lin- 
coln exactly because he is the true, honest type of Amer- 
ican democracy. There is nothing of the shabby-genteel, 
the would-be-but-couldn't-be fine gentleman; he is the 
great American Demos, honest, shrewd, homely, wise, 
humorous, cheerful, brave, blundering occasionally, but 
through blunders struggling onwards towards what he 
believes the right." In a later letter he observes, " His 
mental abilities were large, and they became the more 
robust as the more weight was imposed upon them.'* 

This last sentence, especially if in Lincoln's mental 
abilities the qualities of his character be included, prob- 
ably indicates the chief point for remark in any estimate 
of his presidency. It is true that he was judged at first 
as a stranger among strangers. Walt Whitman has 
described vividly a scene, with " a dash of comedy, almost 
farce, such as Shakespeare puts in his blackest tragedies," 
outside the hotel in New York where Lincoln stayed on 
his journey to Washington; " his look and gait, his per- 
fect composure and coolness," to cut it short, the usually 
noted marks of his eccentricity, " as he stood looking with 
curiosity on that immense sea of faces, and the sea of 
faces returned the look with similar curiosity, not a single 
one " among the crowd " his personal friend." He was 
not much otherwise situated when he came to Washing- 
ton. It is true also that in the early days he was learning 
his business. " Why, Mr. President," said some one 
towards the end of his life, u you have changed your 
mind." " Yes, I have," said he, " and I don't think much 
of a man who isn't wiser to-day than he was yesterday." 
But it seems to be above all true that the exercise of 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 239 

power and the endurance of responsibility gave him new 
strength. This, of course, cannot be demonstrated, but 
Americans then living, who recall Abraham Lincoln, re- 
mark most frequently how the man grew to his task. 
And this perhaps is the main impression which the slight 
record here presented will convey, the impression of a 
man quite unlike the many statesmen whom power and 
the vexations attendant upon it have in some piteous way 
spoiled and marred, a man who started by being tough 
and shrewd and canny and became very strong and very 
wise, started with an inclination to honesty, courage, and 
kindness, and became, under a tremendous strain, honest, 
brave, and kind to an almost tremendous degree. 

The North then started upon the struggle with an 
eagerness and unanimity from which the revulsion was 
to try all hearts, and the President's most of all; and 
not a man in the North guessed what the strain of that 
struggle was to be. At first indeed there was alarm in 
Washington for the immediate safety of the city. Con- 
federate flags could be seen floating from the hotels in 
Alexandria across the river; Washington itself was full 
of rumours of plots and intended assassinations, and full 
of actual Southern spies; everything was disorganised; 
and Lincoln himself, walking round one night, found the 
arsenal with open doors, absolutely unguarded. 

By April 20, first the Navy Yard at Gosport, in Vir- 
ginia, had to be abandoned, then the Arsenal at Harper's 
Ferry, and on the day of this latter event Lee went over 
to the South. One regiment from Massachusetts, where 
the State authorities had prepared for war before the 
fall of Sumter, was already in Washington; but it had 
had to fight its way through a furious mob in Baltimore, 
with some loss of life on both sides. A deputation from 
many churches in that city came to the President, beg- 
ging him to desist from his bloodthirsty preparations, but 
found him " constitutionally genial and jovial," and 
" wholly inaccessible to Christian appeals." It mattered 
more that a majority of the Maryland Legislature was 
for the South, and that the Governor temporised and 



240 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

requested that no more troops should pass through Balti- 
more. The Mayor of Baltimore and the railway author- 
ities burned railway bridges and tore up railway lines, 
and the telegraph wires were cut. Thus for about live 
days the direct route to Washington from the North was 
barred. It seemed as if the boast of some Southern 
orator that the Confederate flag would float over the 
capital by May i might be fulfilled. Beauregard could 
have transported his now drilled troops by rail from 
South Carolina and would have found Washington iso- 
lated and hardly garrisoned. As a matter of fact, no 
such daring move was contemplated in the South, and 
the citizens of Richmond, Virginia, were themselves 
under a similar alarm; but the South had a real oppor- 
tunity. 

The fall of Washington at that moment would have 
had political consequences which no one realised better 
than Lincoln. It might well have led the Unionists in 
the border States to despair, and there is evidence that 
even then he so fully realised the task which lay before 
the North as to feel that the loss of Maryland, Kentucky, 
and Missouri would have made it impossible. He was 
at heart intensely anxious, and quaintly and injudiciously 
relieved his feelings by the remark to the u 6th Massa- 
chusetts " that he felt as if all other help were a dream, 
and they were " the only real thing." Yet those who 
were with him testify to his composure and to the vigour 
with which he concerted with his Cabinet the various 
measures of naval, military, financial, postal, and police 
preparation which the occasion required, but which need 
not here be detailed. Many of the measures of course 
lay outside the powers which Congress had conferred 
on the public departments, but the President had no hesi- 
tation in " availing himself," as he put it, " of the broader 
powers conferred by the Constitution in cases of insur- 
rection," and looking for the sanction of Congress after- 
wards, rather than " let the Government at once fall 
into ruin." The difficulties of government were greatly 
aggravated by the uncertainty as to which of its servants, 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 241 

civil, naval, or military, were loyal, and the need of rap- 
idly filling the many posts left vacant by unexpected deser- 
tion. Meanwhile troops from New England, and also 
from New York, which had utterly disappointed some 
natural expectations in the South by the enthusiasm of 
its rally to the Union, quickly arrived near Baltimore. 
They repaired for themselves the interrupted railway 
tracks round the city, and by April 25 enough soldiers 
were in Washington to put an end to any present alarm. 
In case of need, the law of " habeas corpus " was sus- 
pended in Maryland. The President had no wish that 
unnecessary recourse should be had to martial law. Nat- 
urally, however, one of his generals summarily arrested 
a Southern recruiting agent in Baltimore. The ordinary 
law would probably have sufficed, and Lincoln is believed 
to have regretted this action, but it was obvious that he 
must support it when done. Hence arose an occasion 
for the old Chief Justice Taney to make a protest on 
behalf of legality, to which the President, who had 
armed force on his side, could not give way, and thus 
early began a controversy to which we must recur. It 
was gravely urged upon Lincoln that he should forcibly 
prevent the Legislature of Maryland from holding a 
formal sitting; he refused on the sensible ground that 
the legislators could assemble in some way and had better 
not assemble with a real grievance in constitutional law. 
Then a strange alteration came over Baltimore. Within 
three weeks all active demonstration in favour of the 
South had subsided; the disaffected Legislature resolved 
upon neutrality; the Governor, loyal at heart — if the 
brief epithet loyal may pass, as not begging any profound 
legal question — carried on affairs in the interest of the 
Union; postal communication and the passage of troops 
were free from interruption by the middle of May; and 
the pressing alarm about Maryland was over. These 
incidents of the first days of war have been recounted in 
some detail, because they may illustrate the gravity of 
the issue in the border States, in others of which the 
struggle, though further removed from observation, 



242 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

lasted longer; and because, too, it is well to realise the 
stress of agitation under which the Government had to 
make far-reaching preparation for a larger struggle, 
while Lincoln, whose will was decisive in all these meas- 
ures, carried on all the while that seemingly unimportant 
routine of a President's life which is in the quietest times 
exacting. 

The alarm in Washington was only transitory, and it 
was generally supposed in the North that insurrection 
would be easily put down. Some even specified the num- 
ber of days necessary, agreeably fixing upon a smaller 
number than the ninety days for which the militia were 
called out. Secretary Seward has been credited with 
language of this kind, and even General Scott, whose 
political judgment was feeble, though his military judg- 
ment was sound, seems at first to have rejected proposals, 
for example, for drilling irregular cavalry, made in the 
expectation of a war of some length. There is evidence 
that neither Lincoln nor Cameron, the Secretary of War, 
indulged in these pleasant fancies. Irresistible public 
opinion, in the East especially, demanded to see prompt 
activity. The North had arisen in its might; it was for 
the Administration to put forth that might, capture Rich- 
mond, to which the Confederate Government had moved, 
and therewith make an end of rebellion. The truth was 
that the North had to make its army before it could 
wisely advance into the assured territory of the South; 
the situation of the Southern Government in this respect 
was precisely the same. The North had enough to do 
meantime in making sure of the States which were still 
debatable ground. Such forces as were available must 
of necessity be used for this purpose, but for any larger 
operations of war military considerations, especially on 
the side which had the larger resources at its back, were 
in favour of waiting and perfecting the instrument which 
was to be used. But in the course of July the pressure 
of public opinion and of Congress, which had then assem- 
bled, overcame, not without some reason, the more 
cautious military view, and on the 21st of that month the 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 243 

North received its first great lesson in adversity at the 
battle of Bull Run. 

Before recounting this disaster we may proceed with 
the story of the struggle in the border States. At an 
early date the rising armies of the North had been organ- 
ised into three commands, called the Department of the 
Potomac, on the front between Washington and Rich- 
mond, the Department of the Ohio, on the upper water- 
shed of the river of that name, and the Department of 
the West. Of necessity the generals commanding in these 
two more Western Departments exercised a larger dis- 
cretion than the general at Washington. The Depart- 
ment of the Ohio was under General McClellan, before 
the war a captain of Engineers, who had retired from 
active service and had been engaged as a railway man- 
ager, in which capacity he has already been noticed, but 
who had earned a good name in the Mexican War, had 
been keen enough in his profession to visit the Crimea, 
and was esteemed by General Scott. The people of 
West Virginia, who, as has been said, were trying to 
organise themselves as a new State, adhering to the 
Union, were invaded by forces despatched by the Gov- 
ernor of their old State. They lay mainly west of the 
mountains, and help could reach them up tributary val- 
leys of the Ohio. They appealed to McClellan, and the 
successes quickly won by forces despatched by him, and 
afterwards under his direct command, secured West Vir- 
ginia, and incidentally the reputation of McClellan. In 
Kentucky, further west, the Governor endeavoured to 
hold the field for the South with a body known as the 
State Guard, while Unionist leaders among the people 
were raising volunteer regiments for the North. Noth- 
ing, however, was determined by fighting between these 
forces. The State Legislature at first took up an atti- 
tude of neutrality, but a new Legislature, elected in June, 
Was overwhelmingly for the Union. Ultimately the Con- 
federate armies invaded Kentucky, and the Legislature 
thereupon invited the Union armies into the State to 
expel them, and placed 40,000 Kentucky volunteers a£ 



244 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the disposal of the President. Thenceforward, though 
Kentucky, stretching as it does for four hundred miles 
between the Mississippi and the Alleghanies, remained 
for long a battle-ground, the allegiance of its people to 
the Union was unshaken. But the uncertainty about their 
attitude continued till the autumn of 1861, and while it 
lasted was an important element in Lincoln's calcula- 
tions. (It must be remembered that slavery existed in 
Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri.) In Missouri the 
strife of factions was fierce. Already in January there 
had been reports of a conspiracy to seize the arsenal at 
St. Louis for the South when the time came, and General 
Scott had placed in command Captain Nathaniel Lyon, 
on whose loyalty he relied the more because he was an 
opponent of slavery. The Governor was in favour of the 
South — as was also the Legislature, and the Governor 
could count on some part of the State Militia; so Lin- 
coln, when he called for volunteers, commissioned Lyon 
to raise them in Missouri. In this task a Union State 
Committee in St. Louis greatly helped him, and the 
large German population in that city was especially ready 
to enlist for the Union. Many of the German immi- 
grants of those days had come to America partly for the 
sake of its free institutions. A State Convention was 
summoned by the Governor to pass an Ordinance of 
Secession, but its electors were minded otherwise, and the 
Convention voted against secession. In several encoun- 
ters Lyon, who was an intrepid soldier, defeated the 
forces of the Governor; in June he took possession of 
the State capital, driving the Governor and Legislature 
away; the State Convention then again assembled and 
set up a Unionist Government for the State. This new 
State Government was not everywhere acknowledged; 
conspiracies in the Southern interest continued to exist 
in Missouri; and the State was repeatedly molested by 
invasions, of no great military consequence, from 
Arkansas. Indeed, in the autumn there was a serious 
recrudescence of trouble, in which Lyon lost his life. But 
substantially Missouri was secured for the Union. Nat- 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 245 

urally enough, a great many of the citizens of Missouri 
who had combined to save their State to the Union 
became among the strongest of the " Radicals " who will 
later engage our attention. Many, however, of the lead- 
ing men who had done most in this cause, including the 
friends of Blair, Lincoln's Postmaster-General, adhered 
no less emphatically to the " Conservative " section of 
the Republicans. 

2. Bull Run. 

Thus, in the autumn of 1861, North and South had 
become solidified into something like two countries. In 
the month of July, which now concerns us, this process 
was well on its way, but it is to be marked that the whole 
long tract of Kentucky still formed a neutral zone, which 
the Northern Government did not wish to harass, and 
which perhaps the South would have done well to let 
alone, while further west in Missouri the forces of the 
North were not even as fully organised as in the East. 
So the only possible direction in which any great blow 
could be struck was the direction of Richmond, now the 
capital, and it might seem, therefore, the heart, of the 
Confederacy. The Confederate Congress was to meet 
there on July 20. The New York Tribune, which was 
edited by Mr. Horace Greeley, a vigorous writer whose 
omniscience was unabated by the variation of his own 
opinion, was the one journal of far-reaching influence 
in the North; and it only gave exaggerated point to a 
general feeling when it declared that the Confederate 
Congress must not meet. The Senators and Congress- 
men now in Washington were not quite so exacting, but 
they had come there unanimous in their readiness to 
vote taxes and support the war in every way, and they 
wanted to see something done; and they wanted it 
all the more because the three months' service of the 
militia was running out. General Scott, still the chief 
military adviser of Government, was quite distinct in hi* 
preference for waiting and for perfecting the discipline 
and organisation of the volunteers, who had not yet 



246 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

even been formed into brigades. On the militia he set 
no value at all. For long he refused to countenance 
any but minor movements preparatory to a later advance. 
It is not quite certain, however, that Congress and public 
opinion were wrong in clamouring for action. The 
Southern troops were not much, if at all, more ready for 
use than the Northerners; and Jefferson Davis and his 
military adviser, Lee, desired time for their defensive 
preparations. It was perhaps too much to expect that 
the country after its great uprising should be content to 
give supplies and men without end while nothing appar- 
ently happened; and the spirit of the troops them- 
selves might suffer more from inaction than from defeat. 
A further thought, while it made defeat seem more dan- 
gerous, made battle more tempting. There was fear 
that European Powers might recognise the Southern Con- 
federacy and enter into relations with it. Whether they 
did so depended on whether they were confirmed in their 
growing suspicion that the North could not conquer the 
South. Balancing the military advice which was given 
them as to the risk against this political importunity, 
Lincoln and his Cabinet chose the risk, and Scott at 
length withdrew his opposition. Lincoln was possibly 
more sensitive to pressure than he afterwards became, 
more prone to treat himself as a person under the orders 
of the people, but there is no reason to doubt that he 
acted on his own sober judgment as well as that of his 
Cabinet. Whatever degree of confidence he reposed in 
Scott, Scott was not very insistent; the risk was not over-, 
whelming; the battle was very nearly won, would have 
been won if the orders of Scott had been carried out. 
No very great harm in fact followed the defeat of Bull 
Run; and the danger of inaction was real. He was 
probably then, a* he certainly was afterwards, pro- 
foundly afraid th«*t the excessive military caution which 
he often encountered would destroy the cause of the 
North by disheartening the people who supported the 
war. That is no doubt a kind of fear to which many 
statesmen are too prone, but Lincoln's sense of real pop- 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 247 

ular feeling throughout the wide extent of the North is 
agreed to have been uncommonly sure. Definite judg- 
ment on such a question is impossible, but probably 
Lincoln and his Cabinet were wise. 

However, they did not win their battle. The Southern 
army under Beauregard lay near the Bull Run river, 
some twenty miles from Washington, covering the rail- 
way junction of Manassas on the line to Richmond. The 
main Northern army, under General McDowell, a capa- 
ble officer, lay south of the Potomac, where fortifications 
to guard Washington had already been erected on Vir- 
ginian soil. In the Shenandoah Valley was another 
Southern force, under Joseph Johnston, watched by the 
Northern general Patterson at Harper's Ferry, which 
had been recovered by Scott's operations. Each of these 
Northern generals was in superior force to his opponent. 
McDowell was to attack the Confederate position at 
Manassas, while Patterson, whose numbers were nearly 
double Johnston's, was to keep him so seriously occupied 
that he could not join Beauregard. With whatever ex- 
cuse of misunderstanding or the like, Patterson made 
hardly an attempt to carry out his part of Scott's orders, 
and Johnston, with the bulk of his force, succeeded in 
joining Beauregard the day before McDowell's attack, 
and without his gaining knowledge of this movement. 
The battle of Bull Run or Manassas (or rather the 
earlier and more famous of two battles so named) was 
an engagement of untrained troops in which up to a cer- 
tain point the high individual quality of those troops 
supplied the place of discipline. McDowell handled 
with good judgment a very unhandy instrument. It was 
only since his advance had been contemplated that his 
army had been organised in brigades. The enemy, occu- 
pying high wooded banks on the south side of the Bull 
Run, a stream about as broad as the Thames at Oxford 
but fordable, was successfully pushed back to a high 
ridge beyond; but the stubborn attacks over difficult 
ground upon this further position failed from lack of 
co-ordination, and, when it already seemed doubtful 



248 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

whether the tired soldiers of the North could renew 
them with any hope, they were themselves attacked on 
their right flank. It seems that from that moment their 
success upon that day was really hopeless, but some de- 
clare that the Northern soldiers with one accord became 
possessed of a belief that this flank attack by a compara- 
tively small body was that of the whole force of John- 
ston, freshly arrived upon the scene. In any case they 
spontaneously retired in disorder; they were not effec- 
tively pursued, but McDowell was unable to rally them 
at Centreville, a mile or so behind the Bull Run. Among 
the camp followers the panic became extreme, and they 
pressed into Washington in wild alarm, accompanied by 
citizens and Congressmen who had come out to see a 
victory, and who left one or two of their number behind 
as prisoners of war. The result was a surprise to the 
Southern army. Johnston, who now took over the com- 
mand, declared that it was as much disorganised by vic- 
tory as the Northern army by defeat. With the full 
approval of his superiors in Richmond, he devoted him- 
self to entrenching his position at Manassas. But in 
Washington, where rumours of victory had been arriv- 
ing all through the day of battle, there prevailed for 
some time an impression that the city was exposed to 
immediate capture, and this impression was shared by 
McClellan, to whom universal opinion now turned as 
the appointed saviour, and who was forthwith sum- 
moned to Washington to take command of the army of 
the Potomac. 

Within the circle of the Administration there was, of 
course, deep mortification. Old General Scott passion- 
ately declared himself to have been the greatest coward 
in America in having ever given way to the President's 
desire for action. Lincoln, who was often to prove his 
readiness to take blame on his own shoulders, evidently 
thought that the responsibility in this case was shared 
by Scott, and demanded to know whether Scott accused 
him of having overborne his judgment. The old gen- 
eral warmly, if a little ambiguously, replied that he had 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 249^ 

served under many Presidents, but never known a kinder 
master. Plainly he felt that his better judgment had 
somehow been overpowered, and yet that there was 
nothing in their relations for which in his heart he could 
blame the President; and this trivial dialogue is worth 
remembering during the dreary and controversial tale 
of Lincoln's relations with Scott's successor. Lincoln, 
however bitterly disappointed, showed no signs of dis- 
composure or hesitancy. The business of making the 
army of the Potomac quietly began over again. To the 
four days after Bull Run belongs one of the few records 
of the visits to the troops which Lincoln constantly paid 
when they were not too far from Washington, cheering 
them with little talks which served a good purpose with- 
out being notable. He was reviewing the brigade com- 
manded at Bull Run by William Sherman, later, but not 
yet, one of the great figures in the war. He was open 
to all complaints, and a colonel of militia came to him 
with a grievance; he claimed that his term of service 
had already expired, that he had intended to go home, 
but that Sherman unlawfully threatened to shoot him if 
he did so. Lincoln had a good look at Sherman, and 
then advised the colonel to keep out of Sherman's way, 
as he looked like a man of his word. This was said 
in the hearing of many men, and Sherman records his 
lively gratitude for a simple jest which helped him greatly 
in keeping his brigade in existence. 

Not one of the much more serious defeats suffered 
later in the war produced by itself so lively a sense of 
discomfiture in the North as this; thus none will equally 
claim our attention. But, except for the first false 
alarms in Washington, there was no disposition to mis- 
take its military significance. The " second uprising of 
the North," which followed upon this bracing shock, left 
as vivid a memory as the little disaster of Bull Run. But 
there was of necessity a long pause while McClellan re- 
modelled the army in the East, and the situation in the 
West was becoming ripe for important movements. The 
eagerness of the Northern people to make some progress^ 



250 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

again asserted itself before long, but to their surprise, 
and perhaps to that of a reader to-day, the last five 
months of 1861 passed without notable military events. 
Here then we may turn to the progress of other affairs, 
departmental affairs, foreign affairs, and domestic policy, 
which, it must not be forgotten, had pressed heavily upon 
the Administration from the moment that war began. 

3. Lincoln's Administration Generally. 

Long before the Eastern public was very keenly aware 
of Lincoln the members of his Cabinet had come to think 
of the Administration as his Administration, some, like 
Seward, of whom it could have been little expected, with 
a loyal, and for America most fortunate, acceptance of 
real subordination, and one at least, Chase, with indig- 
nant surprise that his own really great abilities were not 
dominant. One Minister early told his friends that 
there was but one vote in the Cabinet, the President's* 
This must not be taken in the sense that Lincoln's per- 
sonal guidance was present in every department. He 
had his own department, concerned with the maintenance 
of Northern unity and with that great underlying problem 
of internal policy which will before long appear again, 
and the business of the War Department was so imme- 
diately vital as to require his ceaseless attention; but in 
other matters the degree and manner of his control of 
course varied. Again, it is far from being the case that 
the Cabinet had little influence on his action. He not 
only consulted it much, but deferred to it much. His 
wisdom seems to have shown itself in nothing more 
strongly than in recognising when he wanted advice and 
when he did not, when he needed support and when he 
could stand alone. Sometimes he yielded to his Min- 
isters because he valued their judgment, sometimes also 
because he gauged by them the public support without 
which his action must fail. Sometimes, when he was 
sure of the necessity, he took grave steps without advice 
from them or any one. More often he tried to arrive 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 251 

with them at a real community of decision. It is often 
impossible to guess what acts of an Administration are 
rightly credited to its chief. The hidden merit or demerit 
of many statesmen has constantly lain in the power, or 
the lack of it, of guiding their colleagues and being guided 
in turn. If we tried to be exact in saying Lincoln, or 
Lincoln's Cabinet, or the North did this or that, it would 
be necessary to thresh out many bushels of tittle-tattle. 
The broad impression, however, remains that in the 
many things in which Lincoln did not directly rule he 
ruled through a group of capable men of whom he made 
the best use, and whom no other chief could have in- 
duced to serve so long in concord. As we proceed some 
authentic examples of his precise relations with them 
will appear, in which, unimportant as they seem, one 
test of his quality as a statesman and of his character 
should be sought. 

The naval operations of the war afford many tales of 
daring on both sides which cannot here be noticed. They 
afford incidents of strange interest now, such as the 
exploit of the first submarine. (It belonged to the South; 
its submersion invariably resulted in the death of the 
whole crew; and, with full knowledge of this, a devoted 
crew went down and destroyed a valuable Northern iron- 
clad.) The ravages on commerce of the Alabama and 
some other Southern cruisers became only too famous 
in England, from whose ship-building yards they had es- 
caped. The North failed too in some out of the fairly 
numerous combined naval and military expeditions, which 
were undertaken with a view to making the blockade 
more complete and less arduous by the occupation of 
Southern ports, and perhaps to more serious incursions 
into the South. Among those of them which will re- 
quire no special notice, most succeeded. Thus by the 
spring of 1863 Florida was substantially in Northern 
hands, and by 1865 the South had but two ports left, 
Charleston and Wilmington; but the venture most attrac- 
tive to Northern sentiment, an attack upon Charleston 
itself, proved a mere waste of military force. More- 



252 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

over, till a strong military adviser was at last found in 
Grant there was some dissipation of military force in 
such expeditions. Nevertheless, the naval success of the 
North was so continuous and overwhelming that its his- 
tory in detail need not be recounted in these pages. Al. 
most from the first the ever-tightening grip of the block* 
ade upon the Southern coasts made its power felt, and 
early in 1862 the inland waterways of the South were 
beginning to fall under the command of the Northern 
flotillas. Such a success needed, of course, the adoption 
of a decided policy from the outset; it needed great ad- 
ministrative ability to improvise a navy where hardly 
any existed, and where the conditions of its employment 
were in many respects novel; and it needed resourceful 
watching to meet the surprises of fresh naval invention 
by which the South, poor as were its possibilities for ship- 
building, might have rendered impotent, as once or twice 
it seemed likely to do, the Northern blockade. Gideon 
Welles, the responsible Cabinet Minister, was constant 
and would appear to have been capable at his task, but 
the inspiring mind of the Naval Department was found 
in Gustavus V. Fox, a retired naval officer, who at the 
beginning of Lincoln's administration was appointed 
Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The policy of block* 
ade was begun by Lincoln's Proclamation on April 19, 
1 86 1. It was a hardy measure, certain to be a cause of 
friction with foreign Powers. The United States Gov- 
ernment had contended in 18 12 that a blockade which is 
to confer any rights against neutral commerce must be 
an effective blockade, and has not lately been inclined 
to take lax views upon such questions; but when it de- 
clared its blockade of the South it possessed only three 
steamships of war with which to make it effective. But 
the policy was stoutly maintained. The Naval Depart- 
ment at the very first set about buying merchant ships in 
Northern ports and adapting them to warlike use, and 
building ships of its own, in the design of which it shortly 
obtained the help of a Commission of Congress on the 
subject of ironclads. The Naval Department had at 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 253 

least the fullest support and encouragement from Lincoln 
in the whole of its policy. Everything goes to show that 
he followed naval affairs carefully, but that, as he found 
them conducted on sound lines by men that he trusted, 
his intervention in them was of a modest kind. Welles 
continued throughout the member of his Cabinet with 
whom he had the least friction, and was probably one 
of those Ministers, common in England, who earn the 
confidence of their own departments without in any way 
impressing the imagination of the public; and a letter by 
Lincoln to Fox immediately after the affair of Fort 
Sumter shows the hearty esteem and confidence with 
which from the first he regarded Fox. Of the few slight 
records of his judgment in these matters one is signifi- 
cant. The unfortunate expedition against Charleston in 
the spring of 1863 was undertaken with high hopes by 
the Naval Department ; but Lincoln, we happen to know, 
never believed it could succeed. He has, rightly or 
wrongly, been blamed for dealings with his military 
officers in which he may be said to have spurred them 
hard; he cannot reasonably be blamed for giving the 
rein to his expert subordinates, because his own judg- 
ment, which differed from theirs, turned out right. This 
is one of very many instances which suggest that at the 
time when his confidence in himself was full grown his 
disposition, if any, to interfere was well under control. 
It is also one of the indications that his attention 
was alert in many matters in which his hand was 
not seen. 

He was no financier, and that important part of the 
history of the war, Northern finance, concerns us little. 
The real economic strength of the North was immense, 
for immigration and development were going on so fast, 
that, for all the strain of the war, production and ex- 
ports increased. But the superficial disturbance caused 
by borrowing and the issue of paper money was great, 
and, though the North never bore the pinching that was 
endured in the South, it is an honourable thing that, for 
all the rise in the cost of living and for all the trouble 



254 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

that occurred in business when the premium on gold 
often fluctuated between 40 and 60 and on one occasion 
rose to 185, neither the solid working class of the coun- 
try generally nor the solid business class of New York 
were deeply affected by the grumbling at the duration of 
the war. The American verdict upon the financial policy 
of Chase, a man of intellect but new to such affairs, is 
one of high praise. Lincoln left him free in that policy. 
He had watched the acts and utterances of his chief con- 
temporaries closely and early acquired a firm belief in 
Chase's ability. How much praise is due to the Presi- 
dent, who for this reason kept Chase in his Cabinet, a 
later part of this story may show. 

One function of Government was that of the President 
alone. An English statesman is alleged to have said 
upon becoming Prime Minister, " I had important and 
interesting business in my old office, but now my chief 
duty will be to create undeserving Peers." Lincoln, in 
the anxious days that followed his first inauguration, once 
looked especially harassed; a Senator said to him: 
" What is the matter, Mr. President? Is there bad news 
from Fort Sumter?" "Oh, no," he answered, " it's 
the Post Office at Baldinsville." The patronage of the 
President was enormous, including the most trifling offices 
under Government, such as village postmasterships. In 
the appointment to local offices, he was expected to con- 
sult the local Senators and Representatives of his own 
party, and of course to choose men who had worked for 
the party. In the vast majority of cases decent compe- 
tence for the office in the people so recommended might 
be presumed. The established practice further required 
that a Republican President on coming in should replace 
with good Republicans most of the nominees of the late 
Democratic administration, which had done the like in 
its day. Lincoln's experience after a while led him to 
prophesy that the prevalence of office-seeking would be 
the ruin of American politics, but it certainly never oc- 
curred to him to try and break down then the accepted 
rule, of which no party yet complained. It would have 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 255 

been unmeasured folly, even if he had thought of it, to 
have taken during such a crisis a new departure which 
would have vexed the Republicans far more than it would 
have pleased the Democrats. And at that time it was 
really of great consequence that public officials should be 
men of known loyalty to the Union, for obviously a post- 
master of doubtful loyalty might do mischief. Lincoln, 
then, except in dealing with posts of special consequence, 
for which men with really special qualifications were to 
be found, frankly and without a question took as the 
great principle of his patronage the fairest possible dis- 
tribution of favours among different classes and indi- 
viduals among the supporters of the Government, whom 
it was his primary duty to keep together. His attitude in 
the whole business was perfectly understood and re- 
spected by scrupulous men who watched politics critically. 
It was the cause in one way of great worry to him, for, 
except when his indignation was kindled, he was abnor- 
mally reluctant to say " no,"- — he once shuddered to 
think what would have happened to him if he had been 
a woman, but was consoled by the thought that his ugli- 
ness would have been a shield; and his private secre- 
taries accuse him of carrying out his principle with need- 
less and even ridiculous care. In appointments to which 
the party principle did not apply, but in which an ordinary 
man would have felt party prejudice, Lincoln's old op- 
ponents were often startled by his freedom from it. If 
jobbery be the right name for his persistent endeavour 
to keep the partisans of the Union pleased and united, 
his jobbery proved to have one shining attribute of 
virtue; later on, when, apart from the Democratic oppo- 
sition which revived, there arose in the Republican party 
sections hostile to himself, the claims of personal adher- 
ence to him and the wavering prospects of his own re- 
election seem, from recorded instances, to have affected 
his choice remarkably little. 



256 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

4. Foreign Policy and England. 

The question, what was his influence upon foreign 
policy, is more difficult than the general praise bestowed 
upon it might lead us to expect; because, though he is 
known to have exercised a constant supervision over 
Seward, that influence was concealed from the diplomatic 
world. 

For at least the first eighteen months of the war, apart 
from lesser points of quarrel, a real danger of foreign 
intervention hung over the North. The danger was in- 
creased by the ambitions of Napoleon III. in regard to 
Mexico, and by the loss and suffering caused to Eng- 
land, above all, not merely from the interruption of trade 
but from the suspension of cotton supplies by the block- 
ade. From the first there was the fear that foreign 
powers would recognise the Southern Confederacy as an 
independent country; that they were then likely to offer 
mediation which it would at the best have been embar- 
rassing for the President to reject; that they might ulti- 
mately, when their mediation had been rejected, be 
tempted to active intervention. It is curious that the one 
European Government which was recognised all along 
as friendly to the Republic was that of the Czar, Alex- 
ander II. of Russia, who in this same year, 1861, was 
accomplishing the project, bequeathed to him by his 
father, of emancipating the serfs. Mercier, the French 
Minister in Washington, advised his Government to 
recognise the South Confederacy as early as March, 
1 86 1. The Emperor of the French, though not the 
French people, inclined throughout to this policy; but 
he would not act apart from England, and the English 
Government, though Americans did not know it, had 
determined, and for the present was quite resolute, 
against any hasty action. Nevertheless an almost acci- 
dental cause very soon brought England and the North 
within sight of a war from which neither people was in 
appearance averse. 

Neither the foreign policy of Lincoln's Government 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 257 

nor, indeed, the relations of England and America from 
his day to our own can be understood without some study 
of the attitude of the two countries to each other during 
the war. If we could put aside any previous judgment 
on the cause as between North and South, there are 
still some marked features in the attitude of England 
during the war which every Englishman must now regret. 
It should emphatically be added that there were some 
upon which every Englishman should look back with sat- 
isfaction. Many of the expressions of English opinion 
at that time betray a powerlessness to comprehend an- 
other country and a self-sufficiency in judging it, which, 
it may humbly be claimed, were not always and are not 
now so characteristic of Englishmen as they were in that 
period of our history, in many ways so noble, which we 
associate with the rival influences of Palmerston and of 
Cobden. It is not at all surprising that ordinary English 
gentlemen started with a leaning towards the South; 
they liked Southerners and there was much in the man- 
ners of the North, and in the experiences of Englishmen 
trading with or investing in the North, which did not 
impress them favourably. Many Northerners discov- 
ered something snobbish and unsound in this preference, 
but they were not quite right. With this leaning, Eng- 
lishmen readily accepted the plea of the South that it 
was threatened with intolerable interference; indeed to 
this day it is hardly credible to Englishmen that the 
grievance against which the South arose in such passion- 
ate revolt was so unsubstantial as it really was. On the 
other hand, the case of the North was not apprehended. 
How it came to pass, in the intricate and usually unin- 
teresting play of American politics, that a business com- 
munity, which had seemed pretty tolerant of slavery, was 
now at war on some point which was said to be and said 
not to be slavery, was a little hard to understand. Those 
of us who remember our parents' talk of the American 
Civil War did not hear from them the true and fairly 
simple explanation of the war, that the North fought 
because it refused to connive further in the extension of 



258 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

slavery, and would not — could not decently— accept the 
disruption of a great country as the alternative. It is 
strictly true that the chivalrous South rose in blind pas- 
sion for a cause at the bottom of which lay the narrowest 
of pecuniary interests, while the over-sharp Yankees, 
guided by a sort of comic backwoodsman, fought, whether 
wisely or not, for a cause as untainted as ever animated 
a nation in arms. But it seems a paradox even now, and 
there is no reproach in the fact, that our fathers, who 
had not followed the vacillating course of Northern pol- 
itics hitherto, did not generally take it in. We shall see 
in a later chapter how Northern statesmanship added to 
their perplexity. But it is impossible not to be ashamed 
of some of the forms in which English feeling showed it- 
self and was well known in the North to show itself. 
Not only the articles of some English newspapers, but 
the private letters of Americans who then found them- 
selves in the politest circles in London, are unpleasant to 
read now. It is painful, too, that a leader of political 
thought like Cobden should even for a little while — and 
it was only a little while — have been swayed in such a 
matter by a sympathy relatively so petty as agreement 
with the Southern doctrine of Free Trade. We might 
now call it worthier of Prussia than of England that a 
great Englishman like Lord Salisbury (then Lord Robert 
Cecil) should have expressed friendship for the South 
as a good customer of ours, and antagonism for the 
North as a rival in our business. When such men as 
these said such things they were, of course, not brutally 
indifferent to right, they were merely blind to the fact 
that a very great and plain issue of right and wrong was 
really involved in the war. Gladstone, to take another 
instance, was not blind to that, but with irritating mis- 
apprehension he protested against the madness of plung- 
ing into war to propagate the cause of emancipation. 
Then came in his love of small states, and from his 
mouth, while he was a Cabinet Minister, came the im- 
pulsive pronouncement, bitterly regretted by him and 
bitterly resented in the North: " Jefferson Davis and 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 259 

other leaders of the South have made an army; they are 
making, it appears, a navy; and they have made — what 
is more than either — they have made a nation." Many 
other Englishmen simply sympathised with the weaker 
side; many too, it should be confessed, with the appar- 
ently weaker side which they were really persuaded would 
win. ("Win the battles," said Lord Robert Cecil to a 
Northern lady, *'i and we Tories shall come round at 
once.") These things are recalled because their natural 
effect in America has to be understood. What is really 
lamentable is not that in this distant and debatable affair 
the sympathy of so many inclined to the South, but that, 
when at least there was a Northern side, there seemed 
at first to be hardly any capable of understanding or 
being stirred by it. Apart from politicians there were 
Only two Englishmen of the first rank, Tennyson and 
Darwin, who, whether or not they understood the matter 
in detail, are known to have cared from their hearts for 
the Northern cause. It is pleasant to associate with 
these greater names that of the author of " Tom Brown." 
The names of those hostile to the North or apparently 
quite uninterested are numerous and surprising. Even 
Dickens, who had hated slavery, and who in " Martin 
Chuzzlewit " had appealed however bitterly to the higher 
national spirit which he thought latent in America, now, 
when that spirit had at last and in deed asserted itself, 
gave way in his letters to nothing but hatred of the 
whole country. And a disposition like this — explicable 
but odious — did no doubt exist in the England of those 
days. 

There is, however, quite another aspect of this ques- 
tion besides that which has so painfully impressed many 
American memories. When the largest manufacturing 
industry of England was brought near to famine by the 
blockade, the voice of the stricken working population 
was loudly and persistently uttered on the side of the 
North. There has been no other demonstration so 
splendid of the spirit which remains widely diffused 
among individual English working men and which at one 



260 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

time animated labour as a concentrated political force. 
John Bright, who completely grasped the situation in 
America, took a stand, in which J. S. Mill, W. E. 
Forster, and the Duke of Argyll share his credit, but 
which did peculiar and great honour to him as a Quaker 
who hated war. But there is something more that must 
be said. The conduct of the English Government, sup- 
ported by the responsible leaders of the Opposition, was 
at that time, no less than now, the surest indication of 
the more deep-seated feelings of the real bulk of Eng- 
lishmen on any great question affecting our international 
relations; and the attitude of the Government, in which 
Lord Palmerston was Prime Minister and Lord John 
Russell Foreign Secretary, and with which in this matter 
Conservative leaders like Disraeli and Sir Stafford 
Northcote entirely concurred, was at the very least free 
from grave reproach. Lord John Russell, and, there 
can be little doubt, his colleagues generally, regarded 
slavery as an " accursed institution/' but they felt no 
anger with the people of the South for it, because, as 
he said, " we gave them that curse and ours were the 
hands from which they received that fatal gift " ; in 
Lord John at least the one overmastering sentiment upon 
the outbreak of the war was that of sheer pain that " a 
great Republic, which has enjoyed institutions under 
which the people have been free and happy, is placed in 
jeopardy." Their insight into American affairs did not 
go deep; but the more seriously we rate " the strong 
antipathy to the North, the strong sympathy with the 
South, and the passionate wish to have cotton,'' of which 
a Minister, Lord Granville, wrote at the time, the greater 
is the credit due both to the Government as a whole and 
to Disraeli for having been conspicuously unmoved by 
these considerations; and " the general approval from 
Parliament, the press, and the public," which, as Lord 
Granville added, their policy received, is creditable too. 
It is perfectly true, as will be seen later, that at one dark 
moment in the fortunes of the North, the Government 
very cautiously considered the possibility of intervention. 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 261 

But Disraeli, to whom a less patriotic course would have 
offered a party advantage, recalled to them their own 
better judgment; and it is impossible to read their cor- 
respondence on this question without perceiving that in 
this they were actuated by no hostility to the North, but 
by a sincere belief that the cause of the North was hope- 
less and that intervention, with a view to stopping blood- 
shed, might prove the course of honest friendship to all 
America. Englishmen of a later time have become 
deeply interested in America, and may wish that their 
fathers had better understood the great issue of the 
Civil War, but it is matter for pride, which in honesty 
should be here asserted, that with many selfish interests 
in this contest, of which they were most keenly aware, 
Englishmen, in their capacity as a nation, acted with 
complete integrity. 

But for our immediate purpose the object of thus re- 
viewing a subject on which American historians have 
lavished much research is to explain the effect produced 
in America by demonstrations of strong antipathy and 
sympathy in England. The effect in some ways has been 
long lasting. The South caught at every mark of sym- 
pathy with avidity, was led by its politicians to expect 
help, received none, and became resentful. It is surpris- 
ing to be told, but may be true, that the embers of this 
resentment became dangerous to England in the autumn 
of 1 9 14. In the North the memory of an antipathy which 
was almost instantly perceived has burnt deep — as many 
memoirs, for instance those recently published by Sen- 
ator Lodge, show — into the minds of precisely those 
Americans to whom Englishmen have ever since been the 
readiest to accord their esteem. There were many men 
in the North with a ready-made dislike of England, but 
there were many also whose sensitiveness to English 
opinion, if in some ways difficult for us to appreciate, was 
intense. Republicans such as James Russell Lowell had 
writhed under the reproaches cast by Englishmen upon 
the acquiescence of all America in slavery; they felt that 
the North had suddenly cut off this reproach and staked 



*%& ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

everything on the refusal to give way to slavery any 
further; they looked now for expressions of sympathy 
from many quarters in England; but in the English news- 
papers which they read and the reports of Americans in 
England they found evidence of nothing but dislike. 
There soon came evidence, as it seemed to the whole 
North, of actually hostile action on the part of the 
British Government. It issued a Proclamation enjoining 
neutrality upon British subjects. This was a matter of 
course on the outbreak of what was nothing less than 
war; but Northerners thought that at least some courte- 
ous explanation should first have been made to their 
Government, and there were other matters which they 
misinterpreted as signs of an agreement of England with 
France to go further and open diplomatic relations with 
the Confederate Government. Thus alike in the most 
prejudiced and in the most enlightened quarters in the 
North there arose an irritation which an Englishman 
must see to have been natural but can hardly think to 
have been warranted by the real facts. 

Here came in the one clearly known and most cer- 
tainly happy intervention of Lincoln's in foreign affairs. 
Early in May Seward brought to him the draft of a 
vehement despatch, telling the British Government per- 
emptorily what the United States would not stand, and 
framed in a manner which must have frustrated any at- 
tempt by Adams in London to establish good relations 
with Lord John Russell. That draft now exists with 
-the alterations made in Lincoln's own hand. With a few 
touches, some of them very minute, made with the skill 
of a master of language and of a life-long peacemaker, 
he changed the draft into a firm but entirely courteous 
despatch. In particular, instead of requiring Adams, as 
Seward would have done, to read the whole despatch to 
Russell and leave him with a copy of it, he left it to the 
man on the spot to convey its sense in what manner he 
judged best. Probably, as has been claimed for him, his 
few penstrokes made peaceful relations easy when 
Seward's despatch would have made them almost im« 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 263 

possible; certainly a study of this document will prove 
both his strange, untutored diplomatic skill and the gen- 
eral soundness of his view of foreign affairs. 

Now, however, followed a graver crisis in which his 
action requires some discussion. Messrs. Mason and 
Slidell were sent by the Confederate Government as their 
emissaries to England and France. They got to Havana 
and there took ship again on the British steamer Trent. 
A watchful Northern sea captain overhauled the Trent, 
took Mason and Slidell off her, and let her go. If he 
had taken the course, far more inconvenient to the Trent, 
of bringing her into a Northern harbour, where a North- 
ern Prize Court might have adjudged these gentlemen 
to be bearers of enemy despatches, he would have been 
within the law. As it was he violated well-established 
usage, and no one has questioned the right and even the 
duty of the British Government to demand the release 
of the prisoners. This they did in a note of which the 
expression was made milder by the wish of the Queen 
(conveyed in almost the last letter of the Prince Con- 
sort), but which required compliance within a fortnight. 
Meanwhile Secretary Welles had approved the sea cap- 
tain's action. The North was jubilant at the capture, 
the more so because Mason and Slidell were Southern 
statesmen of the lower type and held to be specially ob- 
noxious; and the House of Representatives, to make mat- 
ters worse, voted its approval of what had been done. 
Lincoln, on the very day when the news of the capture 
came, had seen and said privately that on the principles 
which America had itself upheld in the past the prisoners 
would have to be given up with an apology. But there 
is evidence that he now wavered, and that, bent as he 
was on maintaining a united North, he was still too dis- 
trustful of his own better judgment as against that of 
the public. At this very time he was already on other 
points in painful conflict with many friends. In any case 
he submitted to Seward a draft despatch making the ill- 
judged proposal of arbitration. He gave way to Seward, 
but at the Cabinet meeting on Christmas Eve, at which 



264 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Seward submitted a despatch yielding to the British de- 
mand, it is reported that Lincoln, as well as Chase and 
others, was at first reluctant to agree, and that it was 
Bates and Seward that persuaded the Cabinet to a just 
and necessary surrender. 

This was the last time that there was serious friction 
in the actual intercourse of the two Governments. The 
lapse of Great Britain in allowing the famous Alabama 
to sail was due to delay and misadventure (" week-ends " 
or the like) in the proceedings of subordinate officials, 
and was never defended, and the numerous minor con- 
troversies that arose, as well as the standing disagree- 
ment as to the law of blockade never reached the point 
of danger. For all this great credit was due to Lord 
Lyons and to C. F. Adams, and to Seward also, when 
he had a little sobered down, but it might seem as if the 
credit commonly given to Lincoln by Americans rested 
on little but the single happy performance with the earlier 
despatch which has been mentioned. Adams and Lyons 
were not aware of his beneficent influence — the papers 
of the latter contain little reference to him beyond a 
kindly record of a trivial conversation, at the end of 
which, as the Ambassador was going for a holiday to 
England, the President said, u Tell the English people 
I mean them no harm." Yet it is evident that Lincoln's 
supporters in America, the writer of the Biglow Papers, 
for instance, ascribed to him a wise, restraining power 
in the Trent dispute. What is more, Lincoln later 
claimed this for himself. Two or three years later, in 
one of the confidences with which he often startled men 
who were but slight acquaintances, but who generally 
turned out worthy of confidence, he exclaimed with em- 
phatic self-satisfaction, " Seward knows that I am his 
master," and recalled with satisfaction how he had forced 
Seward to yield to England in the Trent affair. It would 
have been entirely unlike him to claim praise when it was 
wholly undue to him; we find him, for example, writing 
to Fox, of the Navy Department, about " a blunder 
which was probably in part mine, and certainly was not 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 265 

yours " ; so that a puzzling question arises here. It is 
quite possible that Lincoln, who did not press his pro- 
posal of arbitration, really manoeuvred Seward and the 
Cabinet into full acceptance of the British demands by 
making them see the consequences of any other action. 
It is also, however, likely enough that, being, as he was, 
interested in arbitration generally, he was too inexperi- 
enced to see the inappropriateness of the proposal in this 
case. If so, we may none the less credit him with having 
forced Seward to work for peace and friendly relations 
with Great Britain, and made that minister the agent, 
more skilful than himself, of a peaceful resolution which 
in its origin was his own. 

5. The Great Questions of Domestic Policy. 

The larger questions of civil policy which arose out of 
the fact of the war, and which weighed heavily on Lin- 
coln before the end of 1861, can be related with less 
intricate detail if the fundamental point of difficulty 
is made clear. 

Upon July 4 Congress met. In an able Message which 
was a skilful but simple appeal not only to Congress, but 
to the " plain people, " the President set forth the nature 
of the struggle as he conceived it, putting perhaps in its 
most powerful form the contention that the Union was 
indissoluble, and declaring that the " experiment " of 
" our popular government " would have failed once for 
all if it did not prove that " when ballots have fairly and 
constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal 
back to bullets." He recounted the steps which he had 
taken since the bombardment of Fort Sumter, some of 
which might be held to exceed his constitutional authority 
as indeed they did, saying he would have been false to 
his trust if for fear of such illegality he had let the whole 
Constitution perish, and asking that, if necessary, Con- 
gress should ratify them. He appealed to Congress now 
to do its part, and especially he appealed for such prompt 
and adequate provision of money and men as would en- 



266 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

able the war to be speedily brought to a close. Congress, 
with but a few dissentient voices, chiefly from the border 
States, approved all that he had done, and voted the sup- 
plies that he had asked. Then, by a resolution of both 
Houses, it defined the object of the war; the war was 
not for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, or of 
" overthrowing or interfering with the rights or estab- 
lished institutions " of the Southern States; it was solely 
u to preserve the Union with all the dignity, equality, 
and rights of the several States unimpaired. " 

In this resolution may be found the clue to the supreme 
political problem with which, side by side with the con- 
duct of the war, Lincoln was called upon to grapple un- 
ceasingly for the rest of his life. That problem lay in 
the inevitable change, as the war dragged on, of the 
political object involved in it. The North as yet was not 
making war upon the institutions of Southern States, in 
other words upon slavery, and it would have been wrong 
to do so. It was simply asserting the supremacy of law 
by putting down what every man in the North regarded 
as rebellion. That rebellion, it seemed likely, would 
completely subside after a decisive defeat or two of the 
Southern forces. The law and the Union would then 
have been restored as before. A great victory would in 
fact have been won over slavery, for the policy of re- 
stricting its further spread would have prevailed, but the 
constitutional right of each Southern State to retain 
slavery within its borders was not to be denied by those 
who were fighting, as they claimed, for the Constitution. 

Such at first was the position taken up by an unani- 
mous Congress. It was obviously in accord with those 
political principles of Lincoln which have been examined 
in a former chapter. More than that, it was the position 
which, as he thought, his official duty as President im- 
posed on him. It is exceedingly difficult for any English- 
man to follow his course as the political situation devel- 
oped. He was neither a dictator, nor an English Prime 
Minister. He was first and foremost an elected officer 
with powers and duties prescribed by a fixed Constitution 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 267 

which he had sworn to obey. His oath was continually 
present to his mind. 

He was there to uphold the Union and the laws, with 
just so much infraction of the letter of the law, and no 
more, as might be obviously necessary if the Union and 
the whole fabric of law were not to perish. 

The mere duration of the war altered of necessity the 
policy of the North and of the President. Their task 
had presented itself as in theory the " suppression of an 
unlawful combination" within their country; it became 
in manifest fact the reabsorption of a country now hos- 
tile, with which reunion was possible only if slavery, the 
fundamental cause of difference, was uprooted. 

As the hope of a speedy victory and an easy settlement 
vanished, wide differences of opinion appeared again in 
the North, and the lines on which this cleavage proceeded 
very soon showed themselves. There were those who 
gladly welcomed the idea of a crusade against slavery, 
and among them was an unreasonable section of so-called 
Radicals. These resented that delay in a policy of whole- 
sale liberation which was enforced by legal and constitu- 
tional scruples, and by such practical considerations as 
the situation in the slave States which adhered to the 
North. There was, on the other hand, a Democratic 
party Opposition which before long began to revive. It 
combined many shades of opinion. There were sup- 
porters or actual agents of the South, few at first and 
very quiet, but ultimately developing a treasonable ac- 
tivity. There were those who constituted themselves the 
guardians of legality and jealously criticised all the meas- 
ures of emergency which became more or less necessary. 
Of the bulk of the Democrats it would probably be fair 
to say that their conscious intention throughout was to 
be true to the Union, but that throughout they were beset 
by a respect for Southern rights which would have gone 
far to paralyse the arm of the Government. Lastly, 
there were Republicans, by no means in sympathy with 
the Democratic view, who became suspect to their Rad- 
ical fellows and were vaguely classed together as Con- 



268 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

servatives. This term may be taken to cover men simply 
of moderate and cautious, or in some cases, of variable 
disposition, but it included, too, some men who, while 
rigorous against the South, were half-hearted in their 
detestation of slavery. 

So far as Lincoln's private opinions were concerned, it 
would have been impossible to rank him in any of these 
sections. He had as strong a sympathy with the South- 
ern people as any Democrat, but he was for the restora- 
tion of the Union absolutely and without compromise. 
He was the most cautious of men, but his caution veiled 
a detestation of slavery of which he once said that he 
could not remember the time when he had not felt it. It 
was his business, so far as might be, to retain the support 
of all sections in the North to the Union. In the course, 
full of painful deliberation, which we shall see him pur- 
suing, he tried to be guided by a two-fold principle which 
he constantly avowed. The Union was to be restored 
with as few departures from the ways of the Constitu- 
tion as was possible ; but such departures became his duty 
whenever he was thoroughly convinced that they were 
needful for the restoration of the Union. 

Before the war was four months old, the inevitable 
subject of dispute between Northern parties had begun 
to trouble Lincoln. As soon as a Northern force set 
foot on Southern soil slaves were apt to escape to it, and 
the question arose, what should the Northern general do 
with them, for he was not there to make war on the 
private property of Southern citizens. General Butler 
— a newspaper character of some fame or notoriety 
throughout the war — commanded at Fort Monroe, a 
point on the coast of Virginia which was always held by 
the North. He learnt that the slaves who fled to him 
had been employed on making entrenchments for the 
Southern troops, so he adopted a view, which took the 
fancy of the North, that they were " contraband of 
war," and should be kept from their owners. The cir- 
cumstances in which slaves could thus escape varied so 
much that great discretion must be left to the general on 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 269 

the spot, and the practice of generals varied. Lincoln 
was well content to leave the matter so. Congress, how- 
ever, passed an Act by which private property could 
be confiscated, if used in aid of the " insurrection " but 
not otherwise, and slaves were similarly dealt with. This 
moderate provision as to slaves met with a certain amount 
of opposition; it raised an alarming question in slave 
States like Missouri that had not seceded. Lincoln him- 
self seems to have been averse to any legislation on the 
subject. He had deliberately concentrated his mind, or, 
as his critics would have said, narrowed it down to the 
sole question of maintaining the Union, and was resolved 
to treat all other questions as subordinate to this. 

Shortly after, there reappeared upon the political 
scene a leader with what might seem a more sympathetic 
outlook. This was Fremont, Lincoln's predecessor as 
the Republican candidate for the Presidency. Fremont 
was one of those men who make brilliant and romantic 
figures in their earlier career, and later appear to have 
lost all solid qualities. It must be recalled that, though 
scarcely a professional soldier (for he had held a com- 
mission, but served only in the Ordnance Survey) he had 
conducted a great exploring expedition, had seen fighting 
as a free-lance in California, and, it is claimed, had with 
his handful of men done much to win that great State 
from Mexico. Add to this that he, a Southerner by 
birth, was known among the leaders who had made Cali- 
fornia a free State, and it is plain how appropriate it 
must have seemed when he was set to command the 
Western Department, which for the moment meant 
Missouri. Here by want of competence, and, which was 
more surprising, lethargy he had made a present of some 
successes to a Southern invading force, and had sacrificed 
the promising life of General Lyon. Lincoln, loath to 
remove him, had made a good effort at helping him out 
by tactfully persuading a more experienced general to 
serve as a subordinate on his staff. At the end of August 
Fremont suddenly issued a proclamation establishing 
martial law throughout Missouri. This contained other 



270 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

dangerous provisions, but above all it liberated the 
slaves and confiscated the whole property of all persons 
proved (before Court Martial) to have taken active part 
with the enemy in the field. It is obvious that such a 
measure was liable to shocking abuse, that it was certain 
to infuriate many friends of the Union, and that it was 
in conflict with the law which Congress had just passed 
on the subject. To Lincoln's mind it presented the alarm- 
ing prospect that it might turn the scale against the 
Union cause in the still pending deliberations in Kentucky. 
Lincoln's overpowering solicitude on such a point is 
among the proofs that his understanding of the military 
situation, however elementary, was sound. He wished, 
characteristically, that Fremont himself should withdraw 
his Proclamation. He invited him to withdraw it in 
private letters from which one sentence may be taken: 
" You speak of it as being the only means of saving the 
Government. On the contrary, it is itself the surrender 
of the Government. Can it be pretended that it is any 
longer the Government of the United States — -any gov- 
ernment of constitution and laws — wherein a general or 
a president may make permanent rules of property by 
proclamation? " Fremont preferred to make Lincoln 
publicly overrule him, which he did; and the inevitable 
consequence followed. When some months later, the 
utter military disorganisation, which Fremont let arise 
while he busied himself with politics, and the scandalous 
waste, out of which his flatterers enriched themselves, 
compelled the President to remove him from his com- 
mand, Fremont became, for a time at least, to patriotic 
crowds and to many intelligent, upright and earnest men 
from St. Louis to Boston, the chivalrous and pure-hearted 
soldier of freedom, and Lincoln, the soulless politician, 
dead to the cause of liberty, who, to gratify a few wire- 
pulling friends, had struck this hero down on the eve 
of victory to his army — an army which, by the way, he 
had reduced almost to nonentity. 

This salient instance explains well enough the nature 
of one half of the trial which Lincoln throughout the 



THE OPENING OF THE WAR 271 

war had to undergo. Pursuing the restoration of the 
Union with a thoroughness which must estrange from 
him the Democrats of the North, he was fated from the 
first to estrange also Radicals who were generally as 
devoted to the Union as himself and with whose over- 
mastering hatred of slavery he really sympathised. In 
the following chapter we are more concerned with the 
other half of his trial, the war itself. Of his minor 
political difficulties few instances need be given — only it 
must be remembered that they were many and involved, 
besides delicate questions of principle, the careful sifting 
of much confident hearsay; and, though the critics of 
public men are wont to forget it, that there are only 
twenty-four hours in the day. 

But the year 1861 was to close with a further vexation 
that must be related. Secretary Cameron proved in- 
capable on the business side of war administration. 
Waste and alleged corruption called down upon him a 
searching investigation by a committee of the House of 
Representatives. He had not added to his own consid- 
erable riches, but his political henchmen had grown fat. 
The displeasure with the whole Administration was the 
greater because the war was not progressing favourably, 
or at all. There were complaints of the Naval Depart- 
ment also, but politicians testified their belief in the 
honesty of Welles without saying a word for Cameron. 
There is every reason to think he was not personally 
dishonourable. Lincoln believed in his complete integ- 
rity, and so also did sterner critics, Chase, an apostle of 
economy and uprightness, and Senator Sumner. But he 
had to go. He opened the door for his removal by a 
circular to generals on the subject of slaves, which was 
comparable to Fremont's Proclamation and of which 
Lincoln had to forbid the issue. He accepted the ap- 
pointment of Minister to Russia, and when, before long, 
he returned, he justified himself and Lincoln's judgment 
by his disinterested friendship and support. He was 
removed from the War Office at the end of December 
and a remarkable incident followed. While Lincoln's 



272 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

heart was still set on his law practice, the prospect of 
appearing as something more than a backwoods attorney 
smiled for a single moment on him. He was briefed to 
appear in an important case outside Illinois with an 
eminent lawyer from the East, Edwin M. Stanton; but 
he was not allowed to open his mouth, for Stanton 
snuffed him out with supreme contempt, and he returned 
home crestfallen. Stanton before the war was a strong 
Democrat, but hated slavery. In the last days of 
Buchanan's Presidency he was made Attorney-General 
and helped much to restore the lost credit of that Ad- 
ministration. He was now in Washington, criticising the 
slow conduct of the war with that explosive fury and 
scorn which led him to commit frequent injustice (at the 
very end of the war he publicly and monstrously accused 
Sherman of being bribed into terms of peace by Southern 
gold), which concealed from most eyes his real kindness 
and a lurking tenderness of heart, but which made him 
a vigorous administrator intolerant of dishonesty and in- 
efficiency. He was more contemptuous of Lincoln than 
ever, he would constantly be denouncing his imbecility, 
and it is incredible that kind friends were wanting to 
convey his opinion to Lincoln. Lincoln made him Sec- 
retary of War. 

Since the summer, to the impatient bewilderment of 
the Northern people, of Congress, now again in session, 
and of the President himself, their armies in the field 
were accomplishing just nothing at all, and, as this agi- 
tating year, 1861, closed, a deep gloom settled on the 
North, to be broken after a while by the glare of recur- 
rent disaster. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 

I. Military Policy of the North. 

The story of the war has here to be told from the 
point of view of the civilian administrator, the President; 
stirring incidents of combat and much else of interest 
must be neglected; episodes in the war which peculiarly 
concerned him, or have given rise to controversy about 
him, must be related lengthily. The President was an 
inexperienced man. It should be said, too — for respect 
requires perfect frankness — that he was one of an in- 
experienced people. The Americans had conquered their 
independence from Great Britain at the time when the 
ruling factions of our country had reached their utmost 
degree of inefficiency. They had fought an indecisive 
war with us in 1812-14, while our main business was to 
win at Salamanca and Vittoria. These experiences in 
some ways warped American ideas of war and politics, 
and their influence perhaps survives to this day. The 
extent of the President's authority and his position in 
regard to the advice he could obtain have been explained. 
An examination of the tangle in which military policy 
was first involved may make the chief incidents of the 
war throughout easier to follow. 

Immediately after Bull Run McClellan had been sum- 
moned to Washington to command the army of the 
Potomac. In November, Scott, won* out by infirmity, 
and finding his authority slighted by " my ambitious 
junior," retired, and thereupon McClellan, while retain- 
ing his immediate command upon the Potomac, was made 
for the time General-in-Chief over all the armies of the 
North. There were, it should be repeated, two other 
principal armies besides that of the Potomac: the army 

21% 



274 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

of the Ohio, of which General Buell was given command 
in July; and that of the West, to which General Halleck 
was appointed, though Fremont seems to have retained 
independent command in Missouri. All these armies 
were in an early stage of formation and training, and 
from a purely military point of view there could be no 
haste to undertake a movement of invasion with any of 
them. 

Three distinct views of military policy were presented 
to Lincoln in the early days. Scott, as soon as it was 
clear that the South meant real fighting, saw how serious 
its resistance would be. His military judgment was in 
favour of a strictly defensive attitude before Washing- 
ton; of training the volunteers for at least four months 
in healthy camps; and of then pushing a large army right 
down the Mississippi valley to New Orleans, making 
the whole line of that river secure, and establishing a 
pressure on the South between this Western army and 
the naval blockade which must slowly have strangled 
the Confederacy. He was aware that public impatience 
might not allow a rigid adherence to his policy, and in 
fact, when his view was made public before Bull Run, 
" Scott's Anaconda," coiling itself round the Confed- 
eracy, was the subject of general derision. The view 
of the Northern public and of the influential men in Con- 
gress was in favour of speedy and, as it was hoped, 
decisive action, and this was understood as involving, 
whatever else was done, an attempt soon to capture 
Richmond. In McClellan's view, as in Scott's, the first 
object was the full preparation of the Army, but he 
would have wished to wait till he had a fully trained 
force of 273,000 men on the Potomac, and a powerful 
fleet with many transports to support his movements; 
and, when he had all this, to move southwards in irre- 
sistible force, both advancing direct into Virginia and 
landing at points on the coast, subduing each of the 
Atlantic States of the Confederacy in turn. If the in- 
definite delay and the overwhelming force which his fancy 
pictured could have been granted him, it is plain, the 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 275 

military critics have said, that " he could not have 
destroyed the Southern armies — they would have with- 
drawn inland, and the heart of the Confederacy would 
have remained untouched." But neither the time nor 
the force for which he wished could be allowed him. So 
he had to put aside his plan, but in some ways perhaps 
it still influenced him. 

It would have been impossible to disregard the wishes 
of those, who in the last resort were masters, for a 
vigorous attempt on Richmond, and the continually un- 
successful attempts that were made did serve a military 
purpose, for they kept up a constant drain upon the 
resources of the South. In any well-thought-out policy 
the objects both of Scott's plan and of the popular plan 
would have been borne in mind. That no such policy 
was consistently followed from the first was partly a 
result of the long-continued difficulty in finding any 
younger man who could adequately take the place of 
Scott; it was not for a want of clear ideas, right or 
wrong, on Lincoln's part. 

Only two days after the battle of Bull Run, he put 
on paper his own view as to the future employment of 
the three armies. He thought that one should " threaten " 
Richmond; that one should move from Cincinnati, in 
Ohio, by a pass called Cumberland Gap in Kentucky, 
upon Knoxville in Eastern Tennessee ; and that the third, 
using Cairo on the Mississippi as its base, should ad- 
vance upon Memphis, some 120 miles further south on 
that river. Apparently he did not at first wish to com- 
mit the army of the Potomac very deeply in its advance 
on Richmond, and he certainly wished throughout that 
it should cover Washington against any possible attack. 
Memphis was one of the three points at which the South- 
ern railway system touched the great river and communi- 
cated with the States beyond — Vicksburg and New 
Orleans, much further south, were the others. Knox- 
ville again is a point, by occupying which, the Northern 
forces would have cut the direct railway communication 
between Virginia and the West, but for this move into 



276 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Eastern Tennessee Lincoln had other reasons nearer his 
heart. The people of that region were strongly for the 
Union; they were invaded by the Confederates and held 
down by severe coercion, and distressing appeals from 
them for help kept arriving through the autumn; could 
they have been succoured and their mountainous coun- 
try occupied by the North, a great stronghold of the 
Union would, it seemed to Lincoln, have been planted 
securely far into the midst of the Confederacy. There- 
fore he persistently urged this part of his scheme on the 
attention of his generals. The chief military objection 
raised by Buell was that his army would have to advance 
150 miles from the nearest base of supply upon a rail- 
way; (for 200 miles to the west of the Alleghanies there 
were no railways running from north to south) . To meet 
this Lincoln, in September, urged upon a meeting of im- 
portant Senators and Representatives the construction 
of a railway line from Lexington in Kentucky south- 
wards, but his hearers, with their minds narrowed down 
to an advance on Richmond, seem to have thought the 
relatively small cost in time and money of this work too 
great. Lincoln still thought an expedition to Eastern 
Tennessee practicable at once, and it has been argued 
from the circumstances in which one was made nearly two 
years later that he was right. It would, one may sup- 
pose, have been unwise to separate the armies of the 
Ohio and of the West so widely; for the main army of 
the Confederates in the West, under their most trusted 
general, Albert Sidney Johnston, was from September 
onwards in South-western Kentucky, and could have 
struck at either of these two Northern armies; and this 
was in Buell's mind. On the other hand, Lincoln's ob- 
ject was a wise one in itself and would have been worth 
some postponement of the advance along the Mississippi 
if thereby the army in the West could have been used in 
support of it. However this may be, the fact is that 
Lincoln's plan, as it stood, was backed up by McClellan; 
McClellan was perhaps unduly anxious for Buell to 
move on Eastern Tennessee, because this would have 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 277 

supported the invasion of Virginia which he himself was 
now contemplating, and he was probably forgetful of 
the West; but he was Lincoln's highest military adviser 
and his capacity was still trusted. Buell' s own view was 
that, when he moved, it should be towards Western Ten- 
nessee. He would have had a railway connection behind 
him all his way, and Albert Johnston's army would have 
lain before him. He wished that Halleck meanwhile 
should advance up the courses of the Tennessee and 
Cumberland Rivers; Eastern Tennessee (he may have 
thought) would be in the end more effectively succoured; 
their two armies would thus have converged on John- 
ston's. Halleck agreed with Buell to the extent of dis- 
agreeing with Lincoln and McClellan, but no further. 
He declined to move in concert with Buell. Fremont 
had disorganised the army of the West, and Halleck, 
till he had repaired the mischief, permitted only certain 
minor enterprises under his command. 

Each of the three generals, including the General-in- 
Chief, who was the Government's chief adviser, was set 
upon his own immediate purpose, and indisposed to 
understanding the situation of the others — Buell perhaps 
the least so. Each of them had at first a very sound 
reason, the unreadiness of his army, for being in no hurry 
to move, but then each of them soon appeared to be a 
slow or unenterprising commander. Buell was perhaps 
unlucky in this, for his whole conduct is the subject of 
'some controversy; but he did appear slow, and the two 
others, it is universally agreed, really were so. As 1861 
drew to a close, it became urgent that something should 
be done somewhere, even if it were not done in the best 
possible direction. The political pressure upon the Ad- 
ministration became as great as before Bull Run. The 
army of the Potomac had rapidly become a fine army, 
and its enemy, in no way superior, lay entrenching at 
Manassas, twenty miles in front of it. When Lincoln 
grew despondent and declared that " if something was 
not done soon, the bottom would drop out of the whole 
concern," soldiers remark that the military situation was 



278 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

really sound; but he was right, for a people can hardly 
be kept up to the pitch of a high enterprise if it is forced 
to think that nothing will happen. Before the end of 
the year 1861 military reasons for waiting were no 
longer being urged; McClellan had long been promising 
immediate action, Buell and Halleck seemed merely un- 
able to agree. 

In later days when Lincoln had learnt much by ex- 
perience it is hard to trace the signs of his influence in 
military matters, because, though he followed them 
closely, he was commonly in full agreement with his 
chief general and he invariably and rightly left him free. 
At this stage, when his position was more difficult, and 
his guidance came from common sense and the military 
books, of which, ever since Bull Run, he had been trying, 
amidst all his work, to tear out the heart, there is evi- 
dence on which to judge the intelligence which he applied 
to the war. Certainly he now and ever after looked at 
the matter as a whole and formed a clear view of it, 
which, for a civilian at any rate, was a reasonable view. 
Certainly also at this time and for long after no military 
adviser attempted, in correcting any error of his, to 
supply him with a better opinion equally clear and com- 
prehensive. This is probably why some Northern mili- 
tary critics, when they came to read his correspondence 
with his generals, called him, as his chief biographers 
were tempted to think him, u the ablest strategist of the 
war." Grant and Sherman did not say this; they said, 
what is another thing, that his was the greatest intellec- 
tual force that they had met with. Strictly speaking, he 
could not be a strategist. If he were so judged, he 
would certainly be found guilty of having, till Grant 
came to Washington, unduly scattered his forces. He 
could pick out the main objects; but as to how to econo- 
mise effort, what force and how composed and equipped 
was necessary for a particular enterprise, whether in 
given conditions of roads, weather, supplies, and pre- 
vious fatigue, a movement was practicable, and how 
long it would take, anv clever subaltern with actual ex- 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 279 

perience of campaigning ought to have been a better 
judge than he. The test, which the reader must be 
asked to apply to his conduct of the war, is whether he 
followed duly or unduly his own imperfect judgment, 
whether, on the whole, he gave in whenever it was wise 
to the generals under him, and whether he did so with- 
out losing his broad view or surrendering his ultimate 
purpose. It is really no small proof of strength that, 
with the definite judgments which he constantly formed, 
he very rarely indeed gave imperative orders as Com- 
mander-in-Chief, which he was, to any general. The cir- 
cumstances, all of which will soon appear, in which he was 
tempted or obliged to do so, are only the few marked 
exceptions to his habitual conduct. There are significant 
contrary instances in which he abstained even from seek- 
ing to know his general's precise intentions. At the time 
which has just been reviewed, when the scheme of the 
war was in the making, his correspondence with Buell 
and Halleck shows his fundamental intention. He em- 
phatically abstains from forcing them; he lucidly, though 
not so tactfully as later, urges his own view upon the 
consideration of his general, begging him, not necessa- 
rily to act upon it, but at least to see the point, and if he 
will not do what is wished, to form and explain as clearly 
a plan for doing something better. 

2. The War in the West Up to May, 1862. 

The pressure upon McClellan to move grew stronger 
and indeed more justifiable month after month, and 
when at last, in March, 1862, McClellan did move, the 
story of the severest adversity to the North, of Lincoln's 
sorest trials, and, some still say, his gravest failures, be- 
gan. Its details will concern us more than those of any 
other part of the war. But events in the West began 
earlier, proceeded faster, and should be told first. Buell 
could not obtain from McClellan permission to carry 
out his own scheme. He did, however, obtain permis- 
sion far Halleck, if he consented, to send flotillas up the 



280 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to make a diversion 
while Buell, as Lincoln had proposed and as McClellan 
had now ordered, marched upon Eastern Tennessee. 
Halleck would not move. Buell prepared to move alone, 
and in January, 1862, sent forward a small force under 
Thomas to meet an equally small Confederate force that 
had advanced through Cumberland Gap into Eastern 
Kentucky. Thomas won a complete victory, most wel- 
come as the first success since the defeat of Bull Run, at 
a place called Mill Springs, far up the Cumberland River 
towards the mountains. But at the end of January, while 
Buell was following up with his forces rather widely 
dispersed because he expected no support from Halleck, 
he was brought to a stop, for Halleck, without warning, 
did make an important movement of his own, in which 
he would need BuelFs support. 

The Cumberland and the Tennessee are navigable 
rivers which in their lower course flow parallel in a north- 
erly or north-westerly direction to join the Ohio not far 
above its junction with the Mississippi at Cairo. Fort 
Henry was a Confederate fort guarding the navigation 
of the Tennessee near the northern boundary of the 
State of that name, Fort Donelson was another on the 
Cumberland not far off. Ulysses Simpson Grant, who 
had served with real distinction in the Mexican War, had 
retired from the Army and had been more or less em- 
ployed about his father's leather store in Illinois and 
in the gloomy pursuit of intoxication and of raising small 
sums from reluctant friends when he met them. On the 
outbreak of the Civil War he suddenly pulled himself 
together, and with some difficulty got employment from 
the Governor of Illinois as a Major-General in the State 
Militia (obtaining Army rank later). Since then, while 
serving under Halleck, he had shown sense and prompti- 
tude in seizing an important point on the Ohio, upon 
which the Confederates had designs. He had a quick 
eye for seeing important points. Grant was now ordered 
or obtained permission from Halleck to capture Fort 
Henry and Fort Donelson. By the sudden movements 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 281 

of Grant and of the flotilla acting with him, the Confed- 
erates were forced to abandon Fort Henry on February 
6, 1862. Ten days later Fort Donelson surrendered 
with nearly 10,000 prisoners, after a brilliant and nearly 
successful sortie by the garrison, in which Grant showed, 
further, tenacity and a collected mind under the pressure 
of imminent calamity. Halleck had given Grant little 
help. Buell was reluctant to detach any of his volun- 
teer troops from their comrades to act with a strange 
army, and Halleck had not warned him of his intentions. 
Halleck soon applied to Lincoln for the supreme com- 
mand over the two Western armies with Buell under 
him. This was given to him. Experience showed that 
one or the other must command now that concerted ac- 
tion was necessary. Nothing was known at Washington 
to set against Halleck' s own claim of the credit for the 
late successes. So Lincoln gave him the command, 
though present knowledge shows clearly that Buell was 
the better man. Grant had been left before Fort Don- 
elson in a position of some danger from the army under 
Albert Johnston; and, from needless fear of Beauregard 
with a Confederate force under him yet further West, 
Halleck let slip the chance of sending Grant in pursuit 
of Johnston, who was falling back up the Cumberland 
valley. As it was, Johnston for a time evacuated Nash- 
ville, further up the Cumberland, the chief town of Ten- 
nessee and a great railway centre, which Buell promptly 
occupied; Beauregard withdrew the Confederate troops 
from Columbus, a fortress of great reputed strength on 
the Mississippi not far below Cairo, to positions forty 
or fifty miles (as the crow flies) further down the stream. 
Thus, as it was, some important steps had been gained 
in securing that control of the navigation of the river 
which was one of the great military objects of the North. 
Furthermore, successful work was being done still further 
West by General Curtis in Missouri, who drove an in- 
vading force back into Arkansas and inflicted a crushing 
defeat upon them there in March. But a great stroke 
should now have been struck. Buell, it is said, saw 



282 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

plainly that his forces and Halleck' s should have been 
concentrated as far up the Tennessee as possible in an 
endeavour to seize upon the main railway system of the 
Confederacy in the West. Halleck preferred, it would 
seem, to concentrate upon nothing and to scatter his 
forces upon minor enterprises, provided he did not risk 
any important engagement. An important engagement 
with the hope of destroying an army of the enemy was 
the very thing which, as Johnston's forces now stood, he 
should have sought, but he appears to have been con- 
tented by the temporary retirement of an unscathed 
enemy who would return again reinforced. Buell was 
an unlucky man, and Halleck got quite all he deserved, 
so it is possible that events have been described to us 
without enough regard to Halleck' s case as against Buell. 
But at any rate, while much should have been happening, 
nothing very definite did happen till April 6, when Albert 
Johnston, now strongly reinforced from the extreme 
South, came upon Grant, who (it is not clear why) had 
lain encamped, without entrenching, and not expecting 
immediate attack, near Shiloh, far up the Tennessee 
River in the extreme south of Tennessee State. Buell at 
the time, though without clear information as to Grant's 
danger, was on his way to join him. There seems to 
have been negligence both on Halleck's part and on 
Grant's. The battle of Shiloh is said to have been highly 
characteristic of the combats of partly disciplined armies, 
in which the individual qualities, good or bad, of the 
troops play a conspicuous part. Direction on the part 
of Johnston or Grant was not conspicuously seen, but 
the latter, whose troops were surprised and driven back 
some distance, was intensely determined. In the course 
of that afternoon Albert Johnston was killed. Rightly 
or wrongly Jefferson Davis and his other friends re- 
garded his death as the greatest of calamities to the 
South. After the manner of many battles, more espe- 
cially in this war, the battle of Shiloh was the subject of 
long subsequent dispute between friends of Grant and 
of Buell, and far more bitter dispute between friends of 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 283 

Albert Johnston and Beauregard. But it seems that the 
South was on the point of winning, till late on the 6th 
the approach of the first reinforcements from Buell made 
it useless to attempt more. By the following morning 
further large reinforcements had come up; Grant in his 
turn attacked, and Beauregard had difficulty in turning 
a precipitate retirement into an orderly retreat upon 
Corinth, forty miles away, a junction upon the principal 
railway line to be defended. The next day General Pope, 
who had some time before been detached by Halleck 
for this purpose, after arduous work in canal cutting, cap- 
tured, with 7,000 prisoners, the northernmost forts held 
by the Confederacy on the Mississippi. But Halleck's 
plans required that his further advance should be stopped. 
Halleck himself, in his own time, arrived at the front. 
In his own time, after being joined by Pope, he advanced, 
carefully entrenching himself every night. He covered 
in something over a month the forty miles route to 
Corinth, which, to his surprise, was bloodlessly evacuated 
before him. He was an engineer, and like some other 
engineers in the Civil War, was overmuch set upon a 
methodical and cautious procedure. But his mere ad- 
vance to Corinth caused the Confederates to abandon 
yet another fort on the Mississippi, and on June 6 the 
Northern troops were able to occupy Memphis, for 
which Lincoln had long wished, while the flotilla accom- 
panying them destroyed a Confederate flotilla. Mean- 
while, on May 1, Admiral Farragut, daringly running 
up the Mississippi, had captured New Orleans, and a 
Northern force under Butler was able to establish itself 
in Louisiana. The North had now gained the command 
of most of the Mississippi, for only the hundred miles 
or so between Vicksburg far south and Port Hudson, 
between that and New Orleans, was still held by the 
South; and command by Northern gunboats of the chief 
tributaries of the great river was also established. The 
Confederate armies in the West were left intact, though 
with some severe losses, and would be able before long 
to strike northward in a well-chosen direction ; for all that 



284 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

these were great and permanent gains. Yet the North 
was not cheered. The great loss of life at Shiloh, the 
greatest battle in the war so far, created a horrible im- 
pression. Halleck, under whom all this progress had 
been made, properly enough received a credit, which 
critics later have found to be excessive, though it is plain 
that he had reorganised his army well; but Grant was 
felt to have been caught napping at Shiloh; there were 
other rumours about him, too, and he fell deep into gen* 
eral disfavour. The events of the Western war did not 
pause for long, but, till the end of this year 1862, the 
North made no further definite progress, and the South, 
though it was able to invade the North, achieved no 
important result. It will be well then here to take up 
the story of events in the East and to follow them con- 
tinuously till May, 1863, when the dazzling fortune of 
the South in that theatre of the war reached its highest 
point. 

3. The War in the East Up to May, 1863. 

The interest of this part of the Civil War lies chiefly 
in the achievements of Lee and " Stonewall " Jackson. 
From the point of view of the North, it was not only 
disastrous but forms a dreary and controversial chapter. 
George McClellan came to Washington amid overwhelm- 
ing demonstrations of public confidence. His compara- 
tive youth added to the interest taken in him; and he 
was spoken of as " the young Napoleon.'' This ridicu- 
lous name for a man already thirty-four was a sign that 
the people expected impossible things from him. Letters 
to his wife, which have been injudiciously published, show 
him to us delighting at first in the consideration paid to 
him by Lincoln and Scott, proudly confident in his own 
powers, rather elated than otherwise by a sense that 
the safety of the country rested on him alone. " I shall 
carry the thing en grande, and crush the rebels in one 
campaign." He soon had a magnificent army; he may 
be said to have made it himself. Before, as he thought, 
the time had come to use it, he had fallen from favour, 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 285 

and a dead set was being made against him in Washing- 
ton. A little later, at the crisis of his great venture, 
when, as he claimed, the Confederate capital could have 
been taken, his expedition was recalled. Then at a mo- 
ment of deadly peril to the country his services were again 
called in. He warded off the danger. Yet a little while 
and his services were discarded for ever. This sum- 
mary, which is the truth, but not the whole truth, must 
enlist a certain sympathy for him. The chief fact of his 
later life should at once be added. In 1864, when a 
Presidential election was approaching and despondency 
prevailed widely in the North, he was selected as the 
champion of a great party. The Democrats adopted a 
" platform " which expressed neither more nor less than 
a desire to end the war on any terms. In accordance 
with the invariable tradition of party opposition in war 
time, they chose a war hero as their candidate for the 
Presidency. McClellan publicly repudiated their prin- 
ciples, and no doubt he meant it, but he became their 
candidate — their master or their servant as it might 
prove. That he was Lincoln's opponent in the election 
of that year ensured that his merits and his misfortunes 
would be long remembered, but his action then may 
suggest to any one the doubtful point in his career all 
along. 

Some estimate of his curious yet by no means uncom- 
mon type of character is necessary, if Lincoln's relations 
with him are to be understood at all. The devotion to 
him shown by his troops proves that he had great titles 
to confidence, besides, what he also had, a certain faculty 
of parade, with his handsome charger, his imposing staff 
and the rest. He was a great trainer of soldiers, and 
with some strange lapses, a good organiser. He was 
careful for the welfare of his men; and his almost tender 
carefulness of their lives contrasted afterwards with what 
appeared the ruthless carelessness of Grant. Unlike 
some of his successors, he could never be called an in- 
capable commander. His great opponent, Lee, who had 
known him of old, was wont to calculate on his extraor- 



286 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

dinary want of enterprise, but he spoke of him on the 
whole in terms of ample respect — also, by the way, he 
sympathised with him like a soldier when, as he naturally 
assumed, he became a victim to scheming politicians; 
and Lee confided this feeling to the ready ears of an- 
other great soldier, Wolseley. As he showed himself in 
civil life, McClellan was an attractive gentleman of 
genial address; it was voted that he was "magnetic," 
and his private life was so entirely irreproachable as to 
afford lively satisfaction. More than this, it may be con- 
jectured that to a certain standard of honour, loyalty, 
and patriotism, which he set consciously before himself, 
he would always have been devotedly true. But if it be 
asked further whether McClellan was the desired in- 
strument for Lincoln's and the country's needs, and 
whether, as the saying is, he was a man to go tiger-hunt- 
ing with, something very much against him, though hard 
to define, appears in every part of his record (except 
indeed, one performance in his Peninsular Campaign). 
Did he ever do his best to beat the enemy? Did he ever, 
except for a moment, concentrate himself singly upon any 
great object? Were even his preparations thorough? 
Was his information ever accurate ? Was his purpose in 
the war ever definite, and, if so, made plain to his Gov- 
ernment? Was he often betrayed into marked frank- 
ness, or into marked generosity? No one would be ready 
to answer yes to any of these questions. McClellan fills 
so memorable a place in American history that he de- 
mands such a label as can be given to him. In the 
most moving and the most authentic of all Visions of 
Judgment, men were not set on the right hand or the left 
according as they were of irreproachable or reproach- 
able character; they were divided into those who did 
and those who did not. In the provisional judgment 
which men, if they make it modestly, should at times 
make with decision, McClellan's place is clear. The 
quality, " spiacente a Dio ed ai nemici suoi," of the men 
who did not, ran through and through him. 

Lincoln required first a general who would make no 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 287 

fatal blunder, but he required too, when he could find 
him, a general of undaunted enterprise ; he did not wish 
to expose the North to disaster, but he did mean to con- 
quer the South. There was some security in employing 
McClellan, though employing him did at one time throw 
on Lincoln's unfit shoulders the task of defending Wash- 
ington. It proved very hard to find another general 
equally trustworthy. But, in the light of facts which 
Lincoln came to perceive, it proved impossible to con- 
sider McClellan as the man to finish the war. 

We need only notice the doings of the main armies in 
this theatre of the war and take no account of various 
minor affairs at outlying posts. From the battle of Bull 
Run, which was on July 21, 1861, to March 5, 1862, 
the Southern army under Joseph Johnston lay quietly 
drilling at Manassas. It, of course, entrenched its posi- 
tion, but to add to the appearance of its strength, it con- 
structed embrasures for more than its number of guns 
and had dummy guns to show in them. At one moment 
there was a prospect that it might move. Johnston and 
the general with him had no idea of attacking the army 
of the Potomac where it lay, but they did think that with 
a further 50,000 or 60,000 they might successfully in- 
vade Maryland, crossing higher up the Potomac, and by 
drawing McClellan away from his present position, get 
a chance of defeating him. The Southern President 
came to Manassas, at their invitation, on October 1, but 
he did not think well to withdraw the trained men whom 
he could have sent to Johnston from the various points 
in the South at which they were stationed; he may have 
had good reasons but it is likely that he sacrificed one 
of the best chances of the South. McClellan's army was 
soon in as good a state of preparation as Johnston's. 
Early in October McClellan had, on his own statement, 
over 147,000 men at his disposal; Joseph Johnston, on 
his own statement, under 47,000. Johnston was well 
informed as to McClellan's numbers — very likely he 
could get information from Maryland more easily than 
.McClellan from Virginia. The two armies lay not 



288 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

twenty-five miles apart The weather and the roads 
were good to the end of December; the roads were prac* 
ticable by March and they seem to have been so all the 
time. As spring approached, it appeared to the Southern 
generals that McClellan must soon advance. Johnston 
thought that his right flank was liable to be turned and 
the railway communications south of Manassas liable to 
be cut. In the course of February it was realised that 
his position was too dangerous; the large stores accu- 
mulated there were removed; and when, early in March, 
there were reports of unusual activity in the Northern 
camp, Johnston, still expecting attack from the same 
direction, began his retreat. On March 9 it was learned 
in Washington that Manassas had been completely evac- 
uated. McClellan marched his whole army there, and 
marched it back. Johnston withdrew quietly behind the 
Rapidan River, some 30 miles further south, and to his 
surprise was left free from any pursuit. 

For months past the incessant report in the papers* 
" all quiet upon the Potomac," had been getting upon 
the nerves of the North. The gradual conversion of 
their pride in an imposing army into puzzled rage at its 
inactivity has left a deeper impression on Northern mem- 
ories than the shock of disappointment at Bull Run. 
Public men of weight had been pressing for an advance 
in November, and when the Joint Committee of Con- 
gress, an arbitrary and meddlesome, but able and perhaps 
on the whole useful body, was set up in December, it 
brought its full influence to bear on the President. Lin- 
coln was already anxious enough; he wished to rouse 
McClellan himself to activity, while he screened him 
against excessive impatience or interference with his 
plans. It is impossible to say what was McClellan's real 
mind. Quite early he seems to have held out hopes to 
Lincoln that he would soon attack, but he was writing to 
his wife that he expected to be attacked by superior num- 
bers. It is certain, however, that he was possessed now 
and always by a delusion as to the enemy's strength. 
For instance • Lincoln at last felt bound to work out for 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 289 

himself definite prospects for a forward movement; it is 
sufficient to say of this layman's effort that he proposed 
substantially the line of advance which Johnston a little 
later began to dread most; Lincoln's plan was submitted 
for McClellan's consideration; McClellan rejected it, 
and his reasons were based on his assertion that he would 
have to meet nearly equal numbers. He, in fact, out- 
numbered the enemy by more than three to one. If we 
find the President later setting aside the general's judg- 
ment on grounds that are not fully explained, we must 
recall McClellan's vast and persistent miscalculations of 
; an enemy resident in his neighbourhood. And the dis- 
trust which he thus created was aggravated by another 
propensity of his vague mind. His illusory fear was the 
companion of an extravagant hope; the Confederate 
army was invincible when all the world expected him to 
attack it then and there, but the blow which he would 
deal it in his own place and his own time was to have 
decisive results, which were indeed impossible ; the enemy 
was to " pass beneath the Caudine Forks." The de- 
mands which he made on the Administration for men and 
supplies seemed to have no finality about them; his tone 
in regard to them seemed to degenerate into a chronic 
grumble. The War Department certainly did not in- 
tend to stint him in any way; but he was an unsatisfac- 
tory man to deal with in these matters. There was a 
great mystery as to what became of the men sent to him. 
In the idyllic phrase, which Lincoln once used of him 
or of some other general, sending troops to him was 
" like shifting fleas across a barn floor with a shovel — 
not half of them ever get there." But his fault was 
graver than this; utterly ignoring the needs of the West, 
he tried, as General-in-Chief, to divert to his own army 
the recruits and the stores required for the other armies. 
The difficulty with him went yet further; McClellan 
himself deliberately set to work to destroy personal har- 
mony between himself and his Government. It counts 
for little that in private he soon set down all the civil 
authorities as the u greatest set of incapables," and so 



290 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

forth, but it counts for more that he was personally inso- 
lent to the President. Lincoln had been in the habit, 
mistaken in this case but natural in a chief who desires 
to be friendly, of calling at McClellan' s house rather than 
summoning him to his own. McClellan acquired a habit 
of avoiding him, he treated his enquiries as idle curiosity, 
and he probably thought, not without a grain of reason, 
that Lincoln's way of discussing matters with many peo- 
ple led him into indiscretion. So one evening when Lin- 
coln and Seward were waiting at the general's house for 
his return, McClellan came in and went upstairs; a mes- 
sage was sent that the President would be glad to see 
him; he said he was tired and would rather be excused 
that night. Lincoln damped down his friends' indigna- 
tion at this; he would, he once said, " hold General Mc- 
Clellan's stirrup for him if he will only win us victories." 
But he called no more at McClellan's, and a curious 
abruptness in some of his orders later marks his unsuc- 
cessful effort to deal with McClellan in another way. 
The slightly ridiculous light in which the story shows 
Lincoln would not obscure to any soldier the full gravity 
of such an incident. It was not merely foolish to treat 
a kind superior rudely; a general who thus drew down a 
curtain between his own mind and that of the Govern- 
ment evidently went a very long way to ensure failure 
in war. 

Lincoln had failed to move McClellan early in Decem- 
ber. For part of that month and January McClellan 
was very ill. Consultations were held with other gen- 
erals, including McDowell, who could not be given the 
chief command because the troops did not trust him. 
McDowell and the rest were in agreement with Lincoln. 
Then McClellan suddenly recovered and was present at 
a renewed consultation. He snubbed McDowell; the 
inadequacy of his force to meet, in fact, less than a third 
of its number was " so plain that a blind man could see 
it "; he was severely and abruptly tackled as to his own 
plans by Secretary Chase; Lincoln intervened to shield 
him, got from him a distinct statement that he had in 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 291 

his mind a definite time for moving, and adjourned the 
meeting. Stanton, one of the friends to whom McClellan 
had confided his grievances, was now at the War De- 
partment and was at one with the Joint Committee of 
Congress in his impatience that McClellan should move. 
At last, on January 27, Lincoln published a u General 
War Order " that a forward movement was to be made 
by the army of the Potomac and the Western armies on 
February 22. It seems a blundering step, but it roused 
McClellan. For a time he even thought of acting as 
Lincoln wished; he would move straight against John- 
ston, and " in ten days," he told Chase on February 13, 
" I shall be in Richmond." But he quickly returned to 
the plan which he seems to have been forming before but 
which he only now revealed to the Government, and it 
was a plan which involved further delay. When Feb- 
ruary 22 passed and nothing was done, the Joint Com- 
mittee were indignant that Lincoln still stood by Mc- 
Clellan. But McClellan now was proposing definite ac- 
tion; apart from the difficulty of finding a better man, 
there was the fact that McClellan had made his army 
and was beloved by it; above all, Lincoln had not lost all 
the belief he had formed at first in McClellan' s capacity; 
he believed that." if he could once get McClellan started " 
he would do well. Professional criticism, alive to Mc- 
Clelland military faults, has justified Lincoln in this, and 
it was for something other than professional failure that 
Lincoln at last removed him. 

McClellan had determined to move his army by sea 
to some point further down the coast of the Chesapeake 
Bay. The questions which Lincoln wrote to him request- 
ing a written answer have never been adequately an- 
swered. Did McClellan's plan, he asked, require less 
time or money than Lincoln's? Did it make victory 
more certain? Did it make it more valuable? In case 
of disaster, did it make retreat more easy? The one 
point for consideration in McClellan's reply to him is 
that the enemy did not expect such a movement. This 
was quite true; but the enemy was able to meet it, and 



292 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

McClellan was far too deliberate to reap any advantage 
from a surprise. His original plan was to land near a 
place called Urbana on the estuary of the Rappahannock, 
not fifty miles east of Richmond. When he heard that 
Johnston had retreated further south, he assumed, and 
ever after declared, that this was to anticipate his de- 
sign upon Urbana, which, he said, must have reached 
the enemy's ears through the loose chattering of the 
Administration. As has been seen, this was quite un- 
true. His project of going to Urbana was now changed, 
by himself or the Government, upon the unanimous ad- 
vice of his chief subordinate generals, into a movement 
to Fort Monroe, which he had even before regarded as 
preferable to a direct advance southwards. A few days 
after Johnston's retreat, the War Department began the 
embarkation of his troops for this point. Fort Monroe 
is at the end of the peninsula which lies between the 
estuaries of the York River on the north and the James 
on the south. Near the base of this projection of land, 
seventy-five miles from Fort Monroe, stands Richmond. 
On April 2, 1862, McClellan himself landed to begin 
the celebrated Peninsula Campaign which was to close in 
disappointment at the end of July. 

Before the troops were sent to the Peninsula several 
things were to be done. An expedition to restore com- 
munication westward by the Baltimore and Ohio Rail- 
way involved bridging the Potomac with boats which 
were to be brought by canal. It collapsed because Mc- 
Clellan's boats were six inches too wide for the canal 
locks. Then Lincoln had insisted that the navigation of 
the lower Potomac should be made free from the menace 
of Confederate batteries which, if McClellan would have 
co-operated with the Navy Department, would have 
been cleared away long before. This was now done, and 
though a new peril to the transportation of McClellan's 
army suddenly and dramatically disclosed itself, it was 
as suddenly and dramatically removed. In the hasty 
abandonment of Norfolk harbour on the south of the 
James estuary by the North, a screw steamer called the 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 293 s 

Merrimac had been partly burnt and scuttled by the 
North. On March 1 she steamed out of the harbour in 
sight of the North. The Confederates had raised her 
and converted her into an ironclad. Three wooden ships 
of the North gave gallant but useless fight to her and 
were destroyed that day; and the news spread con- 
sternation in every Northern port. On the very next 
morning there came into the mouth of the James the 
rival product of the Northern Navy Department and of 
the Swedish engineer Ericsson's invention. She was com- 
pared to a " cheesebox on a raft " ; she was named the 
Monitor, and was the parent of a type of vessel so called 
which has been heard of much more recently. The 
Merrimac and the Monitor forthwith fought a three 
hours' duel; then each retired into harbour without fatal 
damage. But the Merrimac never came out again; she 
was destroyed by the Confederates when McClellan had 
advanced some way up the Peninsula; and it will be 
unnecessary to speak of the several similar efforts of the 
South, which nearly but not quite achieved very important 
successes later. 

Before and after his arrival at the Peninsula, Mc- 
Clellan received several mortifications. Immediately 
after the humiliation of the enemy's escape from 
Manassas, he was without warning relieved of his com- 
mand as General-in-Chief. This would in any case have 
followed naturally upon his expedition away from Wash- 
ington; it was in public put on that ground alone; and 
he took it well. He had been urged to appoint corps 
commanders, for so large a force as his could not re- 
main organised only in divisions; he preferred to wait 
till he had made trial of the generals under him; Lin- 
coln would not have this delay, and appointed corps com- 
manders chosen by himself because he believed them to 
be fighting men. The manner in which these and some 
other preparatory steps were taken were, without a 
doubt, intended to make McClellan feel the whip. They 
mark a departure, not quite happy at first, from Lincoln's 
formerly too gentle manner. A worse shock to Mc- 



294 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Clellan followed. The President had been emphatic in 
his orders that a sufficient force should be left to make 
Washington safe, and supposed that he had come to a 
precise understanding on this point. He suddenly dis- 
covered that McClellan, who had now left for Fort 
Monroe, had ordered McDowell to follow him with a 
force so large that it would not leave the required num- 
ber behind. Lincoln immediately ordered McDowell 
and his whole corps to remain, though he subsequently 
sent a part of it to McClellan. McClellan' s story later 
gives reason for thinking that he had intended no decep- 
tion; but if so, he had expressed himself with unpar- 
donable vagueness, and he had not in fact left Wash- 
ington secure. Now and throughout this campaign 
Lincoln took the line that Washington must be kept safe 
— safe in the judgment of all the best military authorities 
available. 

McClellan's progress up the Peninsula was slow. He 
had not informed himself correctly as to the geography; 
he found the enemy not so unprepared as he had sup- 
posed; he wasted, it is agreed, a month in regular ap- 
proaches to their thinly-manned fortifications at York- 
town, when he might have carried them by assault. He 
was soon confronted by Joseph Johnston, and he seems 
both to have exaggerated Johnston's numbers again and 
to have been unprepared for his movements. The Ad- 
ministration does not seem to have spared any effort to 
support him. In addition to the 100,000 troops he took 
with him, 40,000 altogether were before long despatched 
to him. He was operating in a very difficult country, 
but he was opposed at first by not half his own number. 
Lincoln, in friendly letters, urged upon him that delay 
enabled the enemy to strengthen himself both in numbers 
and in fortifications. The War Department did its best 
for him. The whole of his incessant complaints on this 
score are rendered unconvincing by the language of his 
private letters about that " sink of iniquity, Washing- 
ton," " those treacherous hounds," the civil authorities, 
who were at least honest and intelligent men, and the 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 295 

"Abolitionists and other scoundrels," who, he supposed, 
wished the destruction of his army. The criticism in 
Congress of himself and his generals was no doubt free, 
but so, as Lincoln reminded him, was the criticism of 
Lincoln himself. Justly or not, there were complaints 
of his relations with corps commanders. Lincoln gave 
no weight to them, but wrote him a manly and a kindly 
warning. The points of controversy which McClellan 
bequeathed to writers on the Civil War are innumerable, 
but no one can read his correspondence at this stage with- 
out concluding that he was almost impossible to deal with, 
and that the whole of his evidence in his own case was 
vitiated by a sheer hallucination that people wished him 
to fail. He had been nearly two months in the Peninsula 
when he was attacked at a disadvantage by Johnston, 
but defeated him on May 31 and June 1 in a battle which 
gave confidence and prestige to the Northern side, but 
which he did not follow up. A part of his army pursued 
the enemy to within four miles of Richmond, and it has 
been contended that if he had acted with energy he could 
at this time have taken that city. His delay, to what- 
ever it was due, gave the enemy time to strengthen him- 
self greatly both in men and in fortifications. The 
capable Johnston was severely wounded in the battle, 
and was replaced by the inspired Lee. According to 
McClelland own account, which English writers have 
followed, his movements had been greatly embarrassed 
by the false hope given him that McDowell was now to 
march overland and join him. His statement that he 
was influenced by this is refuted by his own letters at the 
time. McClellan, however, suffered a great disappoint- 
ment. The front of Washington was now clear of the 
enemy and Lincoln had determined to send McDowell 
when he was induced to keep him back by a diversion in 
the war which he had not expected, and which indeed 
McClellan had advised him not to expect. 

" Stonewall " Jackson's most famous campaign hap- 
pened at this juncture, and to save Washington, Lincoln 
and Stanton placed themselves, or were placed, in the 



296 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

trying position of actually directing movements of troops. 
There were to the south and south-west of Washington, 
besides the troops under McDowell's command, two 
Northern forces respectively commanded by Generals 
Banks and Fremont. These two men were among the 
chief examples of those " political generals," the use of 
whom in this early and necessarily blundering stage of 
the war has been the subject of much comment. Banks 
was certainly a politician, a self-made man, who had 
worked in a factory and who had risen to be at one time 
Speaker of the House. He was now a general because 
as a powerful man in the patriotic State of Massachu- 
setts he brought with him many men, and these were 
ready to obey him. On the other hand, he on several 
occasions showed good judgment both in military matters 
and in the questions of civil administration which came 
under him; his heart was in his duty; and, though he held 
high commands almost to the end of the war, want of 
competence was never imputed to him till the failure of 
a very difficult enterprise on which he was despatched in 
1864. He was now in the lower valley of the Shenan- 
doah, keeping a watch over a much smaller force under 
Jackson higher up the valley. Fremont was in some 
sense a soldier, but after his record in Missouri he should 
never have been employed. His new appointment was 
one of Lincoln's greatest mistakes, and it was a mistake 
of a characteristic kind. It will easily be understood 
that there were real political reasons for not leaving this 
popular champion of freedom unused and unrecognized. 
These reasons should not have, and probably would not 
have, prevailed. But Lincoln's personal reluctance to 
resist all entreaties on behalf of his own forerunner and 
his own rival was great; and then Fremont came to 
Lincoln and proposed to him a knight-errant's adventure 
to succour the oppressed Unionists of Tennessee by an 
expedition through West Virginia. So he was now to 
proceed there, but was kept for the present in the moun- 
tains near the Shenandoah valley. The way in which 
the forces under McDowell, Banks and Fremont were 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 297 

scattered on various errands was unscientific; what could 
be done by Jackson, in correspondence with Lee, was 
certainly unforeseen. At the beginning of May, Jackson, 
who earlier in the spring had achieved some minor suc- 
cesses in the Shenandoah valley and had raided West 
Virginia, began a series of movements of which the 
brilliant skill and daring are recorded in Colonel Hen- 
derson's famous book. With a small force, surrounded 
by other forces, each of which, if concentrated, should 
have outnumbered him, he caught each in turn at a dis- 
advantage, inflicted on them several damaging blows, 
and put the startled President and Secretary of War in 
fear for the safety of Washington. There seemed to be 
no one available who could immediately be charged with 
the supreme command of these three Northern forces, 
unless McDowell could have been spared from where he 
was; so Lincoln with Stanton's help took upon himself 
to ensure the co-operation of their three commanders by 
orders from Washington. His self-reliance had now 
begun to reach its full stature, his military good sense 
in comparison with McClellan' s was proving greater than 
he had supposed, and he had probably not discovered its 
limitations. Presumably his plans now were, like an ama- 
teur's, too complicated, and it is not worth while to dis- 
cuss them. But he was trying to cope with newly re- 
vealed military genius, and, so far as can be told, he 
was only prevented from crushing the adventurous 
Jackson by a piece of flat disobedience on the part of 
Fremont. Fremont, having thus appropriately punished 
Lincoln, was removed, this time finally, from command. 
Jackson, having successfully kept McDowell from Mc- 
Clellan, had before the end of June escaped safe south- 
ward. McClellan was nearing Richmond. Lee, by this 
time, had been set free from Jefferson Davis' office and 
had taken over the command of Joseph Johnston's 
army. Lincoln must have learnt a great deal, and he 
fully realised that the forces not under McClellan in the 
East should be under some single commander. Pope, 
an experienced soldier, had succeeded well in the West; 



298 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

he was no longer necessary there, and there was no ad- 
verse criticism upon him. He was in all respects a 
proper choice, and he was now summoned to take com- 
mand of what was to be called the army of Virginia. A 
few days later, upon the advice, as it seems, of Scott, 
Halleck himself jvas called from the West. His old 
command was left to Grant and he himself was made 
General-in-Chief and continued at Washington to the 
end of the war as an adviser of the Government. All 
the progress in the West had been made under Halleck's 
supervision, and his despatches had given an exaggerated 
impression of his own achievement at Corinth. He had 
not seen active service before the war, but he had a great 
name as an accomplished military writer; in after years 
he was well known as a writer on international law. He 
is not thought to have justified his appointment by show- 
ing sound judgment about war, and Lincoln upon some 
later emergency told him in his direct way that his mili- 
tary knowledge was useless if he could not give a definite 
decision in doubtful circumstances. But whether Hal- 
leck's abilities were great or small, Lincoln continued to 
use them, because he found him u wholly for the service," 
without personal favour or prejudice. 

McClellan was slowly but steadily nearing Richmond. 
From June 26 to July 2 there took place a series of en- 
gagements between Lee and McClellan, or rather the 
commanders under him, known as the Seven Days' Bat- 
tles. The fortunes of the fighting varied greatly, but 
the upshot is that, though the corps on McClellan's left 
won a strong position not far from Richmond, the sud- 
den approach of Jackson's forces upon McClellan's right 
flank, which began on the 26th, placed him in what ap- 
pears to have been, as he himself thought it, a situation 
of great danger. Lee is said to have " read McClellan 
like an open book," playing upon his caution, which made 
him, while his subordinates fought, more anxious to 
secure their retreat than to seize upon any advantage 
they gained. But Lee's reading deceived him in one 
respect. He had counted upon McClellan's retreating, 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 299 

but thought he would retreat under difficulties right down 
the Peninsula to his original base and be thoroughly cut 
up on the way. But on July 2 McClellan with great skill 
withdrew his whole army to Harrison's Landing far up 
the James estuary, having effected with the Navy a 
complete transference of his base. Here his army lay 
in a position of security; they might yet threaten Rich- 
mond, and McClellan's soldiers still believed in him. 
But the South was led by a great commander and had 
now learned to give him unbounded confidence; there 
was some excuse for a panic in Wall Street, and every 
reason for dejection in the North. 

On the third of the Seven Days, McClellan, much 
moved by the sight of dead and wounded comrades, sent 
a gloomy telegram to the Secretary of War, appealing 
with excessive eloquence for more men. " I only wish 
to say to the President," he remarked in it, " that I 
think he is wrong in regarding me as ungenerous when I 
said that my force was too weak." He concluded: " If 
I save the army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no 
Irhanks to you nor to any other persons in Washington. 
You have done your best to sacrifice this army." Stanton 
still expressed the extraordinary hope that Richmond 
would fall in a day or two. He had lately committed 
the folly of suspending enlistment, an act which, though 
of course there is an explanation of it, must rank as the 
one first-rate blunder of Lincoln's Administration. He 
was now negotiating through the astute Seward for offers 
from the State Governors of a levy of 300,000 men to 
follow up McClellan's success. Lincoln, as was his way, 
feared the worst. He seems at one moment to have had 
fears for McClellan's sanity. But he telegraphed, him- 
self, an answer to him, which affords as fair an exam- 
ple as can be given of his characteristic manner. "Save 
your army at all events. Will send reinforcements as 
fast as we can. Of course they cannot reach you to-day 
or to-morrow, or next day. I have not said you were 
ungenerous for saying you needed reinforcements. I 
thought you were ungenerous in assuming that I did not 



300 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

send them as fast as I could. I feel any misfortune to 
you and your army quite as keenly as you feel it yourself. 
If you have had a drawn battle or repulse, it is the price 
we pay for the enemy not being in Washington. We 
protected Washington and the enemy concentrated on 
you. Had we stripped Washington, he would have been 
upon us before the troops could have gotten to you. Less 
than a week ago you notified us reinforcements were 
leaving Richmond to come in front of us. It is the 
nature of the case, and neither you nor the Government 
are to blame. Please tell me at once the present condi- 
tion and aspect of things." 

Demands for an impossible number of reinforcements 
continued. Lincoln explained to McClellan a few days 
later that they were impossible, and added: " If in your 
frequent mention of responsibility you have the impres- 
sion that I blame you for not doing more than you can, 
please be relieved of such an impression. I only beg that, 
in like manner, you will not ask impossibilities of me." 
Much argument upon Lincoln's next important act may 
be saved by the simple observations that the problem in 
regard to the defence of Washington was real, that 
McClellan's propensity to ask for the impossible was 
also real, and that Lincoln's patient and loyal attitude to 
him was real too. 

Five days after his arrival at Harrison's Landing, 
McClellan wrote Lincoln a long letter. It was a treatise 
upon Lincoln's political duties. It was written as " on 
the brink of eternity." He was not then in fact in any 
danger, and possibly he had composed it seven days be- 
fore as his political testament; and apprehensions, free 
from personal fear, excuse, without quite redeeming, its 
inappropriateness. The President is before all things 
not to abandon the cause. But the cause should be fought 
for upon Christian principles. Christian principles ex- 
clude warfare on private property. More especially do 
they exclude measures for emancipating slaves. And if 
the President gives way to radical views on slavery, he 
will get no soldiers. Then follows a mandate to the 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 301 

President to appoint a Commander-in-Chief, not neces- 
sarily the writer. Such a summary does injustice to a 
certain elevation of tone in the letter, but that elevation 
is itself slightly strained. McClellan, whatever his pri- 
vate opinions, had not meddled with politics before he 
left Washington. The question why in this military crisis 
he should have written what a Democratic politician 
might have composed as a party manifesto must later 
have caused Lincoln some thought, but it apparently did 
not enter into the decision he next took. He arrived him- 
self at Harrison's Landing next day. McClellan handed 
him the letter. Lincoln read it, and said that he was 
obliged to him. McClellan sent a copy to his wife as 
" a very important record." 

Lincoln had come in order to learn the views of 
McClellan and all his corps commanders. They differed 
a good deal on important points, but a majority of them 
were naturally anxious to stay and fight there. Lincoln 
was left in some anxiety as to how the health of the 
troops would stand the climate of the coming months 
if they had to wait long where they were. He was also 
disturbed by McClellan's vagueness about the number 
of his men, for he now returned as present for duty a 
number which far exceeded that which some of his recent 
telegrams had given and yet fell short of the number 
sent him by an amount which no reasonable estimate of 
killed, wounded, and sick could explain. This added to 
Lincoln's doubt on the main question presented to him. 
McClellan believed that he could take Richmond, but he 
demanded for this very large reinforcements. Some part 
of them were already being collected, but the rest could 
by no means be given him without leaving Washington 
with far fewer troops to defend it than McClellan or 
anybody else had hitherto thought necessary. 

On July 24, the day after his arrival at Washington, 
Halleck was sent to consult with McClellan and his gen- 
erals. The record of their consultations sufficiently shows 
the intricacy of the problem to be decided. The ques- 
tion of the health of the climate in August weighed much 



302 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

with Halleck, but the most striking feature of their con- 
versation was the fluctuation of McClellan's own opinion 
upon each important point — at one moment he even gave 
Halleck the impression that he wished under all the cir- 
cumstances to withdraw and to join Pope. When 
Halleck returned to Washington McClellan telegraphed 
in passionate anxiety to be left in the Peninsula and re- 
inforced. On the other hand, some of the officers of 
highest rank with him wrote strongly urging with- 
drawal. This latter was the course on which Lincoln 
and Halleck decided. In the circumstances it was cer- 
tainly the simplest course to concentrate all available 
forces in an attack upon the enemy from the direction of 
Washington which would keep that capital covered all 
the while. It was in any case no hasty and no indefensi- 
ble decision, nor is there any justification for the frequent 
assertion that some malignant influence brought it about. 
It is one of the steps taken by Lincoln which have been 
the most often lamented. But if McClellan had had all 
he demanded to take Richmond and had made good his 
promise, what would Lee have done? Lee's own an- 
swer to a similar question later was, " We would swap 
queens"; that is, he would have taken Washington. If 
so the Confederacy would not have fallen, but in all 
probability the North would have collapsed, and Euro- 
pean Powers would at the least have recognised the Con- 
federacy. 

Lincoln indeed had acted as any prudent civilian Min- 
ister would then have acted. But disaster followed, or 
rather there followed, with brief interruption, a succes- 
sion of disasters which, after this long tale of hesitation, 
can be quickly told. It would be easy to represent them 
as a judgment upon the Administration which had re- 
jected the guidance of McClellan. But in the true per- 
spective of the war, the point which has now been reached 
marks the final election by the North of the policy by 
which it won the war. McClellan, even if he had taken 
Richmond while Washington remained safe, would have 
concentrated the efforts of the North upon a line of ad« 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 303 

vance which gave little promise of finally reducing the 
Confederacy. It is evident to-day that the right course 
for the North was to keep the threatening of Richmond 
and the recurrent hammering at the Southern forces on 
that front duly related to that continual process by which 
the vitals of the Southern country were being eaten into 
from the west. This policy, it has been seen, was present 
to Lincoln's mind from an early day; the temptation to 
depart from it was now once for all rejected. On the 
other hand, the three great Southern victories, the sec- 
ond battle of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellors- 
ville, which followed within the next nine months, had no 
lasting influence. Jefferson Davis might perhaps have 
done well if he had neglected all else and massed every 
man he could gather to pursue the advantage which these 
battles gave him. He did not — perhaps could not — do 
this. But he concentrated his greatest resource of all, 
the genius of Lee, upon a point at which the real danger 
did not lie. 

Pope had now set vigorously to work collecting and 
pulling together his forces, which had previously been 
scattered under different commanders in the north of 
Virginia. He was guilty of a General Order which 
shocked people by its boastfulness, insulted the Eastern 
soldiers by a comparison with their Western comrades, 
and threatened harsh and most unjust treatment of the 
civil population of Virginia. But upon the whole he 
created confidence, for he was an officer well trained in 
his profession as well as an energetic man. The problem 
was now to effect as quickly as possible the union of 
Pope's troops and McClellan's in an overwhelming force. 
Pope was anxious to keep McClellan unmolested while 
he embarked his men. So, to occupy the enemy, he 
pushed boldly into Virginia; he pushed too far, placed 
himself in great danger from the lightning movements 
which Lee now habitually employed Jackson to execute, 
but extricated himself with much promptitude, though 
with some considerable losses. McClellan had not been 
deprived of command; he was in the curious and annoy- 



304 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

ing position of having to transfer troops to Pope till, 
for a moment, not a man remained under him, but the 
process of embarking and transferring them gave full 
scope for energy and skill. McClellan, as it appeared to 
Lincoln, performed his task very slowly. This was not 
the judgment of impatience, for McClellan caused the 
delay by repeated and perverse disobedience to Halleck's 
orders. But the day drew near when 150,000 men 
might be concentrated under Pope against Lee's 55,000. 
The stroke which Lee now struck after earnest consulta- 
tion with Jackson has been said to have been " perhaps 
the most daring in the history of warfare." He divided 
his army almost under the enemy's eyes and sent Jack- 
son by a circuitous route to cut Pope's communications 
with Washington. Then followed an intricate tactical 
game, in which each side was bewildered as to the move- 
ments of the other. Pope became exasperated and aban- 
doned his prudence. He turned on his enemy when he 
should and could have withdrawn to a safe position and 
waited. On August 29 and 30, in the ominous neigh- 
bourhood of the Bull Run and of Manassas, he sustained 
a heavy defeat. Then he abandoned hope before he 
need have done so, and, alleging that his men were de* 
moralised, begged to be withdrawn within the defences 
of Washington, where he arrived on September 3, and, 
as was inevitable in the condition of his army, was re- 
lieved of his command. McClellan, in Lincoln's opinion, 
had now been guilty of the offence which that generous 
mind would find it hardest to forgive. He had not be- 
stirred himself to get his men to Pope. In Lincoln's 
belief at the time he had wished Pope to fail. McClellan, 
who reached Washington at the crisis of Pope's diffi- 
culties, was consulted, and said to Lincoln that Pope 
must be left to get out of his scrape as best he could. It 
was perhaps only an awkward phrase, but it did not 
soften Lincoln. 

Washington was now too strongly held to be attacked, 
but Lee determined to invade Maryland. At least this 
would keep Virginia safe during harvest time. It might 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 305 

win him many recruits in Maryland. It would frighten 
the North, all the more because a Confederate force 
further west was at that same time invading Kentucky; 
it might accomplish there was no saying how much. This 
much, one may gather from the " Life of Lord John 
Russell," any great victory of the South on Northern 
soil would probably have accomplished : the Confederacy 
would have been recognised, as Jefferson Davis longed 
for it to be, by European Powers. Lincoln now acted 
in total disregard of his Cabinet and of all Washington, 
and in equal disregard of any false notions of dignity. 
By word of mouth he directed McClellan to take com- 
mand of all the troops at Washington. His opinion of 
McClellan had not altered, but, as he said to his private 
secretaries, if McClellan could not fight himself, he ex- 
celled in making others ready to fight. No other step 
could have succeeded so quickly in restoring order and 
confidence to the Army. Few or no instructions were 
given to McClellan. He was simply allowed the freest 
possible hand, and was watched with keen solicitude as 
to how he would rise to his opportunity. 

Lee, in his advance, expected his opponent to be slow. 
He actually again divided his small army, leaving Jack- 
son with a part of it behind for a while to capture, as 
he did, the Northern fort at Harper's Ferry. A North- 
ern private picked up a packet of cigars dropped by 
some Southern officer with a piece of paper round it. 
The paper was a copy of an order of Lee's which re- 
vealed to McClellan the opportunity now given him of 
crushing Lee in detail. But he did not rouse himself. 
He was somewhat hampered by lack of cavalry, and his 
greatest quality in the field was his care not to give 
chances to the enemy. His want of energy allowed Lee 
time to discover what had happened and fall back a 
little towards Harper's Ferry. Yet Lee dared, without 
having yet reunited his forces, to stop at a point where 
McClellan must be tempted to give him battle, and 
where, if he could only stand against McClellan, Jack- 
son would be in a position to deliver a deadly counter- 



306 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

stroke. Lee knew that for the South the chance of rapid 
success was worth any risk. McClellan, however, moved 
so slowly that Jackson was able to join Lee before the 
battle. The Northern army came up with them near 
the north bank of the Potomac on the Antietam Creek, 
a small tributary of that river, about sixty miles north- 
east of Washington. There, on September 17, 1862, 
McClellan ordered an attack, to which he did not at- 
tempt to give his personal direction. His corps com- 
manders led assaults on Lee's position at different times 
and in so disconnected a manner that each was repulsed 
singly. But on the following morning Lee found himself 
in a situation which determined him to retreat. 

As a military success the battle of Antietam demanded 
to be followed up. Reinforcements had now come to 
McClellan, and Lincoln telegraphed, " Please do not let 
him get off without being hurt." Lee was between the 
broad Potomac and a Northern army fully twice as large 
as his own, with other large forces near. McClellan's 
subordinates urged him to renew the attack and drive 
Lee into the river. But Lee was allowed to cross the 
river, and McClellan lay camped on the Antietam battle- 
field for a fortnight. He may have been dissatisfied 
with the condition of his army and its supplies. Some 
of his men wanted new boots; many of Lee's were limp- 
ing barefoot. He certainly, as often before, exaggerated 
the strength of his enemy. Lee recrossed the Potomac 
little damaged. Lincoln, occupied in those days over 
the most momentous act of his political life, watched 
McClellan eagerly, and came to the Antietam to see 
things for himself. He came back in the full belief that 
McClellan would move at once. Once more undeceived, 
he pressed him with letters and telegrams from himself 
and Halleck. He was convinced that McClellan, if he 
tried, could cut off Lee from Richmond. Hearing of 
the fatigue of McClellan's horses, he telegraphed about 
the middle of October, " Will you pardon me for asking 
what your horses have done since the battle of Antietam 
that tires anything." This was unkind; McClellan in* 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 307 

deed should have seen about cavalry in the days when 
he was organising in Washington, but at this moment the 
Southern horse had just raided right round his lines and 
got safe back, and his own much inferior cavalry was 
probably worn out with vain pursuit of them. On the 
same day Lincoln wrote more kindly, " My dear Sir, 
you remember my speaking to you of what I called your 
over-cautiousness. Are you not over-cautious when you 
assume that you cannot do what the enemy is constantly 
doing? Change positions with the enemy, and think you 
not, he would break your communications with Rich- 
mond within the next twenty-four hours." And after a 
brief analysis of the situation, which seems conclusive, 
he ends : " I say * try ■ ; if we never try we shall never 
succeed. . . . If we cannot beat him now when he 
bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when 
we bear the wastage of going to him." His patience 
was nearing a limit which he had already fixed in his 
own mind. On October 28, more than five weeks after 
the battle, McClellan began to cross the Potomac, and 
took a week in the process. On November 5, McClellan 
was removed from his command, and General Burnside 
appointed in his place. 

Lincoln had longed for the clear victory that he 
thought McClellan would win; he gloomily foreboded 
that he might not find a better man to put in his place; 
he felt sadly how he would be accused, as he has been 
ever since, of displacing McClellan because he was a 
Democrat. " In considering military merit," he wrote 
privately, " the world has abundant evidence that I dis- 
regard politics." A friend, a Republican general, wrote 
to him a week or so after McClellan had been removed 
to urge that all the generals ought to be men in thorough 
sympathy with the Administration. He received a 
crushing reply (to be followed in a day or two by a 
friendly invitation) indignantly proving that Democrats 
served as well in the field as Republicans. But in re- 
gard to McClellan himself we now know that a grave 
suspicion had entered Lincoln's mind. He might, per- 



308 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

haps, in the fear of finding no one better, have tolerated 
his " over-cautiousness " ; he did not care what line an 
officer who did his duty might in civil life take politically; 
but he would not take the risk of entrusting the war 
further to a general who let his politics govern his strat- 
egy, and who, as he put it simply, " did not want to hurt 
the enemy." This, he had begun to believe, was the 
cause of McClellan's lack of energy. He resolved to treat 
McClellan's conduct now, in fighting Lee or in letting 
him escape South, as the test of whether his own sus- 
picion about him was justified or not. Lee did get clear 
away, and Lincoln dismissed McClellan in the full belief, 
right or wrong, that he was not sorry for Lee's escape. 
It is not known exactly what further evidence Lincoln 
then had for his belief, but information which seems to 
have come later made him think afterwards that he 
had been right. The following story was told him by 
the Governor of Vermont, whose brother, a certain 
General Smith, served under McClellan and was long his 
intimate friend. Lincoln believed the story; so may we. 
The Mayor of New York, a shifty demagogue named 
Fernando Wood, had visited McClellan in the Peninsula 
with a proposal that he should become the Democratic 
candidate for the Presidency, and with a view to this 
should pledge himself to certain Democratic politicians 
to conduct the war in a way that should conciliate the 
South, which to Lincoln's mind meant an " inefficient " 
way. McClellan, after some days of unusual reserve, 
told Smith of this and showed him a letter which he had 
drafted giving the desired pledge. On Smith's earnest 
remonstrance that this " looked like treason," he did not 
send the letter then. But Wood came again after the 
battle of Antietam, and this time McClellan sent a letter 
in the same sense. This he afterwards confessed to 
Smith, showing him a copy of the letter. Smith and 
other generals asked, after this, to be relieved from 
service under him. If, as can hardly be doubted, Mc- 
Clellan did this, there can be no serious excuse for him, 
and no serious question that Lincoln was right when he 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 309^ 

concluded it was unsafe to employ him. McClellan, ac- 
cording to all evidence except his own letters, was a nice 
man, and was not likely to harbour a thought of what 
to him seemed treason; it is honourable to him that he 
wished later to serve under Grant but was refused by 
him. But, to one of his views, the political situation be- 
fore and after Antietam was alarming, and it is certain 
that to his inconclusive mind and character an attitude 
of half loyalty would be easy. He may not have wished 
that Lee should escape, but he had no ardent desire that 
he should not. Right or wrong, such was the ground 
of Lincoln's independent and conscientiously deliberate 
decision. 

The result again did not reward him. His choice of 
Burnside was a mistake. There were corps commanders 
under McClellan who had earned special confidence, but 
they were all rather old. General Burnside, who was 
the senior among the rest, had lately succeeded in opera- 
tions in connection with the Navy on the North Carolina 
coast, whereby certain harbours were permanently closed 
to the South. He had since served under McClellan at 
the Antietam, but had not earned much credit. He was 
a loyal friend to McClellan and very modest about his 
own capacity. Perhaps both these things prejudiced 
Lincoln in his favour. He continued in active service till 
nearly the end of the war, when a failure led to his re- 
tirement; and he was always popular and respected. At 
this juncture he failed disastrously. On December 11 
and 12, 1862, Lee's army lay strongly posted on the 
south of the Rappahannock. Burnside, in spite, as it 
appears, of express warnings from Lincoln, attacked Lee 
at precisely the point, near the town of Fredericksburg, 
where his position was really impregnable. The defeat 
of the Northern army was bloody and overwhelming. 
Burnside's army became all but mutinous; his corps com- 
manders, especially General Hooker, were loud in com- 
plaint. He was tempted to persist, in spite of all pro- 
tests, in some further effort of rashness. Lincoln en- 
deavoured to restrain him. Halleck, whom Lincoln 



3 io ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

begged to give a definite military opinion, upholding or 
overriding Burnside's, had nothing more useful to offer 
than his own resignation. After discussions and re- 
criminations among all officers concerned, Burnside of- 
fered his resignation. Lincoln was by no means dis- 
posed to remove a general upon a first failure or to side 
with his subordinates against him, and refused to accept 
it. Burnside then offered the impossible alternative of 
the dismissal of all his corps commanders for disaffec- 
tion to him, and on January 25, 1863, his resignation was 
accepted. 

There was much discussion in the Cabinet as to the 
choice of his successor. It was thought unwise to give 
the Eastern army a commander from the West again. 
At Chase's instance the senior corps commander who 
was not too old, General Hooker, sometimes called 
" Fighting Joe Hooker," was appointed. He received a 
letter, often quoted as the letter of a man much altered 
from the Lincoln who had been groping a year earlier 
after the right way of treating McClellan : " I have 
placed you," wrote Lincoln, " at the head of the Army 
of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what 
appear to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it 
best for you to know that there are some things in regard 
to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe 
you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which of course I 
like. I also believe that you do not mix politics with 
your profession, in which you are right. You have con- 
fidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not indis- 
pensable, quality. You are ambitious, which, within rea- 
sonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think 
that during General Burnside's command of the army 
you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted 
him as much as you could, in which you did a great 
wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and 
honourable brother officer. I have heard, in such a 
way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both 
the Army and the Government needed a dictator. Of 
course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I gave 



THE DISASTERS OF THE NORTH 311 

you the command. Only those generals who gain suc- 
cesses can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is 
military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The 
Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, 
which is neither more nor less than it has done and will 
do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit 
which you have aided to infuse into the army, of crit- 
icising their commander and withholding confidence from 
him, will now turn upon you. Neither you nor Napoleon, 
if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army 
while such a spirit prevails in it; and now beware of 
rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleep- 
less vigilance go forward and give us victories." 

" He talks to me like a father," exclaimed Hooker, 
enchanted with a rebuke such as this. He was a fine, 
frank, soldierly fellow, with a noble figure, with " a 
grand fighting head," fresh complexion and bright blue 
eyes. He was a good organiser; he put a stop to the 
constant desertions; he felt the need of improving the 
Northern cavalry; and he groaned at the spirit with 
which McClellan had infected his army, a curious collec- 
tive inertness among men who individually were daring. 
He seems to have been highly strung; the very little 
wine that he drank perceptibly affected him; he gave it 
ap altogether in his campaigns. And he cannot have 
been very clever, for the handsomest beating that Lee 
could give him left him unaware that Lee was a general. 
In the end of April he crossed the Rappahannock and 
the Rapidan, which still divided the two armies, and in 
the first week of May, 1863, a brief campaign, full of 
stirring incident, came to a close with the three days' 
battle of Chancellorsville, in which Hooker, hurt and 
dazed with pain, lost control and presence of mind, and, 
with heavy loss, drew back across the Rappahannock. 
The South had won another amazing victory; but 
" Stonewall " Jackson, at the age of thirty-nine, had 
fallen in the battle. 

Abroad, this crowning disaster to the North seemed 
to presage the full triumph of the Confederacy; and it 



312 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

was a gloomy time enough for Lincoln and his Ministers. 
A second and more serious invasion by Lee was impend- 
ing, and the lingering progress of events in the West, of 
which the story must soon be resumed, caused protracted 
and deepening anxiety. But the tide turned soon. More- 
over, Lincoln's military perplexities, which have de- 
manded our detailed attention during these particular 
campaigns, were very nearly at an end. We have here 
to turn back to the political problem of his Presidency, 
for the bloody and inconclusive battle upon the Antietam, 
more than seven months before, had led strangely to 
political consequences which were great and memorable. 



CHAPTER X 

EMANCIPATION 

When the news of a second battle of Bull Run 
reached England it seemed at first to Lord John Russell 
that the failure of the North was certain, and he asked 
Palmerston and his colleagues to consider whether they 
must not soon recognise the Confederacy, and whether 
mediation in the interest of peace and humanity might 
not perhaps follow. But within two months all thoughts 
of recognising the Confederacy had been so completely 
put aside that even Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville 
caused no renewal of the suggestion, and an invitation 
from Louis Napoleon to joint action of this kind between 
England and France had once for all been rejected. 
The battle of Antietam had been fought in the mean- 
time. This made men think that the South could no 
more win a speedy and decisive success than the North, 
and that victory must rest in the end with the side that 
could last. But that was not all; the battle of Antietam 
was followed within five days by an event which made 
it impossible for any Government of this country to take 
action unfriendly to the North. 

On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln set his 
hand to a Proclamation of which the principal words 
were these : " That, on the first day of January in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty- 
three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or 
designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then 
be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, 
thenceforward and forever free." 

The policy and the true effect of this act cannot be 
understood without some examination. Still less so can 

313 



3 i4 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the course of the man who will always be remembered 
as its author. First, in regard to the legal effect of the 
Proclamation; in normal times the President would of 
course not have had the power, which even the Legisla- 
ture did not possess, to set free a single slave ; the Procla- 
mation was an act of war on his part, as Commander- 
in-Chief of the forces, by which slaves were to be taken 
from people at war with the United States, just as horses 
or carts might be taken, to subtract from their resources 
and add to those of the United States. In a curiously 
prophetic manner, ex-President John Quincy Adams had 
argued in Congress many years before that, if rebellion 
ever arose, this very thing might be done. Adams would 
probably have claimed that the command of the Presi- 
dent became law in the States which took part in the 
rebellion. Lincoln only claimed legal force for his Proc- 
lamation in so far as it was an act of war based on suffi- 
cient necessity and plainly tending to help the Northern 
arms. If the legal question had ever been tried out, the 
Courts would no doubt have had to hold that at least 
those slaves who obtained actual freedom under the 
Proclamation became free in law; for it was certainly in 
good fairh an act of war, and the military result justified 
it. A large amount of labour was withdrawn from the 
industry necessary to the South, and by the end of the 
war 180,000 coloured troops were in arms for the North, 
rendering services, especially in occupying conquered ter- 
ritory that was unhealthy for white troops, without 
which, in Lincoln's opinion, the war could never have 
been finished. The Proclamation had indeed an indirect 
effect more far-reaching than this; it committed the North 
to a course from which there could be no turning back, 
except by surrender; it made it a political certainty that 
by one means or another slavery would be ended if the 
North won. But in Lincoln's view of his duty as Presi- 
dent, this ulterior consequence was not to determine his 
action. The fateful step by which the end of slavery 
was precipitated would not have taken the form it did 
take if it had not come to commend itself to him as a 



EMANCIPATION 315 

military measure conducing to the suppression of re- 
bellion. 

On the broader grounds on which we naturally look at 
this measure, many people in the North had, as we have 
seen, been anxious from the beginning that he should 
adopt an active policy of freeing Southern slaves. It 
was intolerable to think that the war might end and 
leave slavery where it was. To convert the war into a 
crusade against slavery seemed to many the best way 
of arousing and uniting the North. This argument was 
reinforced by some of the American Ministers abroad. 
They were aware that people in Europe misunderstood 
and disliked the Constitutional propriety with which the 
Union government insisted that it was not attacking the 
domestic institutions of Southern States. English people 
did not know the American Constitution, and when told 
that the North did not threaten to abolish slavery would 
answer " Why not? " Many Englishmen, who might dis- 
like the North and might have their doubts as to whether 
slavery was as bad as it was said to be, would none the 
less have respected men who would fight against it. They 
had no interest in the attempt of some of their own se- 
ceded Colonists to coerce, upon some metaphysical ground 
of law, others who in their turn wished to secede from 
them. Seward, with wonderful misjudgment, had instructed 
Ministers abroad to explain that no attack was threat- 
ened on slavery, for he was afraid that the purchasers 
of cotton in Europe would feel threatened in their selfish 
interests; the agents of the South were astute enough to 
take the same line and insist like him that the North was 
no more hostile to slavery than the South. If this mis- 
understanding were removed English hostility to the 
North would never again take a dangerous form. 
Lincoln, who knew less of affairs but more of men than 
Seward, was easily made to see this. Yet, with full 
knowledge of the reasons for adopting a decided policy 
against slavery, Lincoln waited through seventeen months 
of the war till the moment had come for him to strike 
his blow. 



3i6 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Some of his reasons for waiting were very plain. He 
was not going to take action on the alleged ground of 
military necessity till he was sure that the necessity ex- 
isted. Nor was he going to take it till it would actually 
lead to the emancipation of a great number of slaves. 
Above all, he would not act till he felt that the North 
generally would sustain his action, for he knew, better 
than Congressmen who judged from their own friends 
in their own constituencies, how doubtful a large part of 
Northern opinion really was. We have seen how in the 
summer of 1861 he felt bound to disappoint the advanced 
opinion which supported Fremont. He continued for 
more than a year after in a course which alienated from 
himself the confidence of the men with whom he had 
most sympathy. He did this deliberately rather than 
imperil the unanimity with which the North supported 
the war. There was indeed grave danger of splitting 
the North in two if he appeared unnecessarily to change 
the issue from Union to Liberation. We have to re- 
member that in all the Northern States the right of the 
Southern States to choose for themselves about slavery 
had been fully admitted, and that four of the Northern 
States were themselves slave States all this while. 

But this is not the whole explanation of his delay. It 
is certain that apart from this danger he would at first 
rather not have played the historic part which he did play 
as the liberator of the slaves, if he could have succeeded 
in the more modest part of encouraging a process of 
gradual emancipation. In his Annual Message to Con- 
gress in December, 1861, he laid down the general prin- 
ciples of his policy in this matter. He gave warning 
in advance to the Democrats of the North, who were 
against all interference with Southern institutions, that 
" radical and extreme measures " might become indis- 
pensable to military success, and if indispensable would 
be taken ; but he declared his anxiety that if possible the 
conflict with the South should not " degenerate into a 
violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle, " for he 
looked forward with fear to a complete overturning of 



EMANCIPATION 317 

the social system of the South. He feared it not only 
for the white people but also for the black. " Gradual 
and not sudden emancipation," he said, in a later Mes- 
sage, " is better for all." It is now probable that he 
was right, and yet it is difficult not to sympathise with 
the earnest Republicans who were impatient at his delay, 
who were puzzled and pained by the free and easy way 
in which in grave conversation he would allude to " the 
nigger question," and who concluded that " the Presi- 
dent is not with us; has no sound Anti-slavery sentiment." 
Indeed, his sentiment did differ from theirs. Certainly, he 
hated slavery, for he had contended more stubbornly 
than any other man against any concession which seemed 
to him to perpetuate slavery by stamping it with ap- 
proval; but his hatred of it left him quite without the 
passion of moral indignation against the slave owners, 
in whose guilt the whole country, North and South, 
seemed to him an accomplice. He would have classed 
that very natural indignation under the head of " malice " 
— " I shall do nothing in malice," he wrote to a citizen 
of Louisiana; " what I deal with is too vast for malicious 
dealing." But it was not, as we shall see before long, 
too vast for an interest, as sympathetic as it was matter 
of fact, in the welfare of the negroes. They were actual 
human beings to him, and he knew that the mere abroga- 
tion of the law of slavery was not the only thing neces- 
sary to their advancement. Looking back, with knowl- 
edge of what happened later, we cannot fail to be glad 
that they were emancipated somehow, but we are forced 
to regret that they could not have been emancipated by 
some more considerate process. Lincoln, perhaps alone 
among the Americans who were in earnest in this matter, 
looked at it very much in the light in which all men look 
at it to-day. 

In the early part of 1862 the United States Govern- 
ment concluded a treaty with Great Britain for the more 
effectual suppression of the African slave trade, and it 
happened about the same time that the first white man 
ever executed as a pirate under the American law against 



318 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

the slave trade was hanged in New York. In those 
months Lincoln was privately trying to bring about the 
passing by the Legislature of Delaware of an Act for 
emancipating, with fit provisions for their welfare, the 
few slaves in that State, conditionally upon compensation 
to be paid to the owners by the United States. He hoped 
that if this example were set by Delaware, it would be 
followed in Maryland, and would spread later. The 
Delaware House were favourable to the scheme, but 
the Senate of the State rejected it. Lincoln now made a 
more public appeal in favour of his policy. In March, 
1862, he sent a Message to Congress, which has already 
been quoted, and in which he urged the two Houses to 
pass Resolutions pledging the United States to give pecu- 
niary help to any State which adopted gradual emanci- 
pation. It must be obvious that if the slave States of 
the North could have been led to adopt this policy it 
would have been a fitting preliminary to any action which 
might be taken against slavery in the South; and the 
policy might have been extended to those Southern States 
which were first recovered for the Union. The point, 
however, upon which Lincoln dwelt in his Message was 
that, if slavery were once given up by the border States, 
the South would abandon all hope that they would ever 
join the Confederacy. In private letters to an editor of 
a newspaper and others he pressed the consideration that 
the cost of compensated abolition was small in proportion 
to what might be gained by a quicker ending of the war. 
During the discussion of his proposal in Congress and 
again after the end of the Session he invited the Senators 
and Representatives of the border States to private con- 
ference with him in which he besought of them " a calm 
and enlarged consideration, ranging, if it may be, far 
above, personal and partisan politics," of the opportu- 
nity of good now open to them. The hope of the Con- 
federacy was, as he then conceived, fixed upon the sym- 
pathy which it might arouse in the border States, 
two of which, Kentucky and Maryland, were in fact in- 
vaded that year with some hope of a rising among the 



EMANCIPATION 319 

inhabitants. The " lever " which the Confederates hoped 
to use in these States was the interest of the slave owners 
there; " Break that lever before their eyes," he urged. 
But the hundred and one reasons which can always be 
found against action presented themselves at once to the 
Representatives of the border States. Congress itself 
so far accepted the President's view that both Houses 
passed the Resolution which he had suggested. Indeed 
it gladly did something more ; a Bill, such as Lincoln him- 
self had prepared as a Congressman fourteen years be- 
fore, was passed for abolishing slavery in the District of 
Columbia; compensation was paid to the owners; a sum 
was set apart to help the settlement in Liberia of any of 
the slaves who were willing to go; and at Lincoln's sug- 
gestion provision was added for the education of the 
negro children. Nothing more was done at this time. 

Throughout this matter Lincoln took counsel chiefly 
with himself. He could not speak his full thought to the 
public, and apparently he did not do so to any of his 
Cabinet. Supposing that the border States had yielded 
to his persuasion, it may still strike us as a very sanguine 
calculation that their action would have had much effect 
upon the resolution of the Confederates. But it must 
be noted that when Lincoln first approached the Repre- 
sentatives of the border States, the highest expectations 
were entertained of the victory that McClellan would 
win in Virginia, and when he made his last, rather despair- 
ing, appeal to them, the derision to withdraw the army 
from the Peninsula had not yet been taken. If a really 
heavy blow had been struck at the Confederates in Vir- 
ginia, their chief hope of retrieving their military for- 
tunes would certainly have lain in that invasion of Ken- 
tucky, which did shortly afterwards occur and which was 
greatly encouraged by the hope of a rising of Kentucky 
men who wished to join the Confederacy. This part of 
Lincoln's calculations was therefore quite reasonable. 
And it was further reasonable to suppose that, if the 
South had then given in and Congress had acted in the 
spirit of the Resolution which it had passed, the policy 



320 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

of gradual emancipation, starting in the border States, 
would have spread steadily. The States which were dis- 
posed to hold out against the inducement that the cost of 
compensated emancipation, if they adopted it, would be 
borne by the whole Union, would have done so at a 
great risk; for each new free State would have been dis- 
posed before long to support a Constitutional Amend- 
ment to impose enfranchisement, possibly with no com- 
pensation, upon the States that still delayed. The force 
of example and the presence of this fear could not have 
bten. resisted long. Lincoln was not a man who could 
be accused of taking any course without a reason well 
thought out; we can safely conclude that in the summer 
of 1862 he nursed a hope, by no means visionary, of 
initiating a process of liberation free from certain evils 
in that upon which he was driven back. 

Before, however, he had quite abandoned this hope 
he had already begun to see his way in case it failed. 
His last appeal to the border States was made on July 
12, 1862, while McClellan's army still lay at Harrison's 
Landing. On the following day he privately told Seward 
and Bates that he had " about come to the conclusion 
that it was a military necessity, absolutely essential to 
the salvation of the nation, that we must free the slaves 
or be ourselves subdued." On July 22 he read to his 
Cabinet the first draft of his Proclamation of Emanci- 
pation; telling them before he consulted them that sub- 
stantially his mind was made up. Various members of 
the Cabinet raised points on which he had already thought 
and had come to a conclusion, but, as he afterwards told 
a friend, Seward raised a point which had never struck 
him before. He said that, if issued at that time of de- 
pression, just after the failure in the Peninsula, the 
Proclamation would seem like " a cry of distress "; and 
that it would have a much better effect if it were issued 
after some military success. 

Seward was certainly right. The danger of division 
in the North would have been increased and the prospect 
of a good effect abroad would have been diminished if 



EMANCIPATION 321 

the Proclamation had been issued at a time of depression 
and manifest failure. Lincoln, who had been set on 
issuing it, instantly felt the force of this objection. He 
put aside his draft, and resolved not to issue the Procla- 
mation till the right moment, and apparently resolved 
to keep the whole question open in his own mind till the 
time for action came. 

Accordingly the two months which followed were not 
only full of anxiety about the war; they were full for 
him of a suspense painfully maintained. It troubled 
him perhaps comparatively little that he was driven into 
a position of greater aloofness from the support and 
sympathy of any party or school. He must now expect 
an opposition from the Democrats of the North, for 
they had declared themselves strongly against the Reso- 
lution which he had induced Congress to pass. And the 
strong Republicans for their part had acquiesced in it 
coldly, some of them contemptuously. In May of this 
year he had been forced for a second time publicly to 
repress a keen Republican general who tried to take this 
question of great policy into his own hands. General 
Hunter, commanding a small expedition which had seized 
Port Royal in South Carolina and some adjacent islands 
rich in cotton, had in a grand manner assumed to declare 
free all the slaves in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 
This, of course, could not be let pass. Congress, too, had 
been occupied in the summer with a new measure for con- 
fiscating rebel property; some Republicans in the West 
set great store on such confiscation; other Republicans 
saw in it the incidental advantage that more slaves might 
be liberated under it. It was learnt that the President 
might put his veto upon it. It seemed to purport, con- 
trary to the Constitution, to attaint the property of rebels 
after their death, and Lincoln was unwilling that the 
Constitution should be stretched in the direction of re- 
vengeful harshness. The objectionable feature in the 
Bill was removed, and Lincoln accepted it. But the sus- 
picion with which many Republicans were beginning to 
regard him was now reinforced by a certain jealousy of 



322 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Congressmen against the Executive power; they grumbled 
and sneered about having to *f ascertain the Royal pleas- 
ure " before they could legislate. This was an able, 
energetic, and truly patriotic Congress, and must not be 
despised for its reluctance to be guided by Lincoln. But 
it was reluctant. 

Throughout August and September he had to deal in 
the country with dread on the one side of any revolu- 
tionary action, and belief on the other side that he was 
timid and half-hearted. The precise state of his inten- 
tions could not with advantage be made public. To up- 
holders of slavery he wrote plainly, " It may as well be 
understood once for all that I shall not surrender this 
game leaving any available card unplayed V ; to its most 
zealous opponents he had to speak in an entirely different 
strain. While the second battle of Bull Run was im- 
pending, Horace Greeley published in the New York 
Tribune an " open letter " of angry complaint about 
Lincoln's supposed bias for slavery. Lincoln at once 
published a reply to his letter. " If there be in it," he 
said, " any statements or assumptions of fact which I 
may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here con- 
trovert them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient 
and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old 
friend whose heart I have always supposed to be right. 
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the 
Union. If I could save the Union without freeing any 
slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing 
all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by 
freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do 
that. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am 
doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I 
shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall 
adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true 
views. " 

It was probably easy to him now to write these master- 
ful generalities, but a week or two later, after Pope's 
defeat, he had to engage in a controversy which tried 
his feelings much more sorely. It had really grieved 



EMANCIPATION 323 

him that clergymen in Illinois had opposed him as un- 
orthodox, when he was fighting against the extension of 
slavery. Now, a week or two after his correspondence 
with Greeley, a deputation from a number of Churches in 
Chicago waited upon him, and some of their members 
spoke to him with assumed authority from on high, com- 
manding him in God's name to emancipate the slaves. 
He said, " I am approached with the most opposite 
opinions and advice, and that by religious men who are 
equally certain that they represent the divine will. I am 
sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken 
in that belief, and perhaps in some respects both. I hope 
it will not be irreverent for me to say that, if it is prob- 
able that God would reveal His will to others, on a point 
so connected with my duty, it might be supposed He 
would reveal it directly to me. What good would a 
proclamation of emancipation from me do especially as 
we are now situated? I do not want to issue a document 
that the whole world will see must necessarily be in- 
operative like the Pope's Bull against the comet. Do not 
misunderstand me, because I have mentioned these ob- 
jections. They indicate the difficulties that have thus far 
prevented my acting in some such way as you desire. I 
have not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the 
slaves, but hold the matter under advisement. And I 
can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and 
night, more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be 
God's will, I will do." The language of this speech, 
especially when the touch is humorous, seems that of a 
strained and slightly irritated man, but the solemnity 
blended in it showed Lincoln's true mind. 

In this month, September, 1862, he composed for his 
own reading alone a sad and inconclusive fragment of 
meditation which was found after his death. " The will 
of God prevails," he wrote. " In great contests each 
party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. 
Both may be and one must be wrong. God cannot be 
for and against the same thing at the same time. In the 
present civil war it k quite possible that God's purpose 



324 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

is something different from the purpose of either party, 
and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they 
do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I 
am almost ready to say that this is probably true, that 
God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. 
By His mere great power on the minds of the contestants, 
He could have either saved or destroyed the Union 
without a human contest. Yet the contest began, and, 
having begun, He could give the final victory to either 
side any day. Yet the contest proceeds." For Lincoln's 
own part it seemed his plain duty to do what in the cir- 
cumstances he thought safest for the Union, and yet he 
was almost of a mind with the deputation which had 
preached to him, that he must be doing God's will in 
taking a great step towards emancipation. The solution, 
that the great step must be taken at the first opportune 
moment, was doubtless clear enough in principle, but it 
must always remain arguable whether any particular 
moment was opportune. He told soon afterwards how 
his mind was finally made up. 

On the day that he received the news of the battle of 
Antietam, the draft Proclamation was taken from its 
drawer and studied afresh; his visit to McClellan on the 
battlefield intervened; but on the fifth day after the 
battle the Cabinet was suddenly called together. When 
the Ministers had assembled Lincoln first entertained 
them by reading the short chapter of Artemus Ward 
entitled " High-handed Outrage at Utica." It is less 
amusing than most of Artemus Ward; but it had just 
appeared; it pleased all the Ministers except Stanton, 
to whom the frivolous reading he sometimes had to hear 
from Lincoln was a standing vexation; and it was pre- 
cisely that sort of relief to which Lincoln's mind when 
overwrought could always turn. Having thus composed 
himself for business, he reminded his Cabinet that he 
had, as they were aware, thought a great deal about the 
relation of the war to slavery, and had a few weeks be- 
fore read them a draft Proclamation on this subject. 
Ever since then, he said, his mind had been occupied 



EMANCIPATION 325 

on the matter, and, though he wished it were a better 
time, he thought the time had come now. u When the 
rebel army was at Frederick," he is related to have con- 
tinued, " I determined, as soon as it should be driven 
out of Maryland, to issue a Proclamation of Emancipa- 
tion such as I thought likely to be most useful. I said 
nothing to any one, but I made the promise to myself 
and V — here he hesitated a little — " to my Maker. The 
rebel army is now driven out, and I am going to fulfil 
that promise. I have got you together to hear what I 
have written down. I do not wish your advice about the 
main matter, for that I have determined for myself. 
This I say without intending anything but respect for any 
one of you." He then invited their suggestions upon the 
expressions used in his draft and other minor matters, 
and concluded: " One other observation I will make. 
I know very well that many others might in this matter, 
as in others, do better than I can; and if I was satisfied 
that the public confidence was more fully possessed by 
any one of them than by me, and knew of any constitu- 
tional way in which he could be put in my place, he 
should have it. I would gladly yield it to him. But 
though I believe I have not so much of the confidence 
of the people as I had some time since, I do not know 
that, all things considered, any other person has more; 
and, however this may be, there is no way in which I 
can have any other man put where I am. I am here; 
I must do the best I can, and bear the responsibility of 
taking the course which I feel I ought to take." Then 
he read his draft, and in the long discussion which fol- 
lowed, and owing to which a few slight changes were 
made in it, he told them further, without any false re- 
serve, just how he came to his decision. In his great 
perplexity he had gone on his knees, before the battle of 
Antietam, and, like a child, he had promised that if a 
victory was given which drove the enemy out of Mary- 
land he would consider it as an indication that it was his 
duty to move forward. " It might be thought strange," 
he said, " that he had in this way submitted the disposal 



326 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

of matters, when the way was not clear to his mind what 
he should do. God had decided this question in favour 
of the slaves." 

Such is the story of what we may now remember as 
one of the signal events in the chequered progress of 
Christianity. We have to follow its consequences a little 
further. These were not at first all that its author would 
have hoped. " Commendation in newspapers and by dis- 
tinguished individuals is," he said in a private letter, " all 
that a vain man could wish," but recruits for the Army 
did not seem to come in faster. In October and Novem- 
ber there were elections for Congress, and in a number 
of States the Democrats gained considerably, though it 
was noteworthy that the Republicans held their ground 
not only in New England and in the furthest Western 
States, but also in the border slave States. The Demo- 
crats, who from this time on became very formidable to 
Lincoln, had other matters of complaint, as will be seen 
later, but they chiefly denounced the President for trying 
to turn the war into one against slavery. " The Consti- 
tution as it is and the Union as it was " had been their 
election cry. The good hearing that they got, now as at 
a later time, was due to the fact that people were de- 
pressed about the war; and it is plain enough that Lincoln 
had been well advised in delaying his action till after a 
military success. As it was, there was much that seemed 
to show that public confidence in him was not strong, but 
public confidence in any man is hard to estimate, and the 
forces that in the end move opinion most are not quickly 
apparent. There are little indications that his power 
and character were slowly establishing their hold; it 
seems, for instance, to have been about this time that 
" old Abe " or " Uncle Abe " began to be widely known 
among common people by the significant name of " Father 
Abraham," and his secretaries say that he was becoming 
conscious that his official utterances had a deeper effect 
on public opinion than any immediate response to them 
in Congress showed. 

In his Annual Message of December, 1862, Lincoln 



EMANCIPATION 327 

put before Congress, probably with little hope of result, 
a comprehensive policy for dealing with slavery justly 
and finally. He proposed that a Constitutional Amend- 
ment should be submitted to the people providing: first, 
that compensation should be given in United States bonds 
to any State, whether now in rebellion or not, which 
should abolish slavery before the year 1900; secondly, 
that the slaves who had once enjoyed actual freedom 
through the chances of the war should be permanently 
free and that their owners should be compensated; 
thirdly, that Congress should have authority to spend 
money on colonisation for negroes. Even if the greater 
part of these objects could have been accomplished with- 
out a Constitutional Amendment, it is evident that such 
a procedure would have been more satisfactory in the 
eventual resettlement of the Union. He urged in his 
Message how desirable it was, as a part of the effort to 
restore the Union, that the whole North should be agreed 
in a concerted policy as to slavery, and that parties should 
for this purpose reconsider their positions. " The dogmas 
of the quiet past," he said, " are inadequate to the stormy 
present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and 
we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so 
we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall 
ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow 
citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress 
and this Administration will be remembered in spite of 
ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can 
spare one or another of us. We say we are for the 
Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We 
know how to save the Union. The world knows we do 
know how to save it. In giving freedom to the slave 
we assure freedom to the free. We shall nobly save or 
meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means 
may succeed, this could not fail." The last four words 
expressed too confident a hope as to what Northern 
policy apart from Northern arms could do towards end- 
ing the war, but it was impossible to exaggerate the value 
which a policy, concerted between parties in a spirit of 



328 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

moderation, would have had in the settlement after vic- 
tory. Every honest Democrat who then refused any 
action against slavery must have regretted it before three 
years were out, and many sensible Republicans who saw 
no use in such moderation may have lived to regret their 
part too. Nothing was done. It is thought that Lincoln 
expected this; but the Proclamation of Emancipation 
would begin to operate within a month ; it would produce 
by the end of the war a situation in which the country 
would be compelled to decide on the principle of slavery, 
and Lincoln had at least done his part in preparing men 
to face the issue. 

Before this, the nervous and irritable feeling of many 
Northern politicians, who found in emancipation a good 
subject for quarrel among themselves and in the slow 
progress of the war a good subject of quarrel with the 
Administration, led to a crisis in Lincoln's Cabinet. Rad- 
icals were inclined to think Seward's influence in the 
Administration the cause of all public evils; some of 
them had now got hold of a foolish private letter, which 
he had written to Adams in England a few months be- 
fore, denouncing the advocates of emancipation. Desir- 
ing his downfall, they induced a small " caucus " of Re- 
publican Senators to speak in the name of the party and 
the nation and send the President a resolution demand- 
ing such changes in his Cabinet as would produce better 
results in the war. Discontented men of opposite opin- 
ions could unite in demanding success in the war; and 
Conservative Senators joined in this resolution hoping 
that it would get rid not only of Seward, but also of 
Chase and Stanton, the objects of their particular antip- 
athy. Seward, on hearing of this, gave Lincoln his resig- 
nation, which was kept private. Though egotistic, he 
was a clever man, and evidently a pleasant man to work 
with; he was a useful Minister under a wise chief, though 
he later proved a harmful one under a foolish chief. 
Stanton was most loyal, and invaluable as head of the 
War Department. Chase, as Lincoln said in private 
afterwards, was " a pretty good fellow and a very able 



EMANCIPATION 329 

man " ; Lincoln had complete confidence in him as a 
Finance Minister, and could not easily have replaced 
him. But this handsome, dignified, and righteous person 
was unhappily a sneak. Lincoln found as time went on 
that, if he ever had to do what was disagreeable to some 
important man, Chase would pay court to that important 
man and hint how differently he himself would have done 
as President. On this occasion he was evidently aware 
that Chase had encouraged the Senators who attacked 
Seward. Much as he wished to retain each of the two 
for his own worth, he was above all determined that one 
should not gain a victory over the other. Accordingly, 
when a deputation of nine important Senators came to 
Lincoln to present their grievances against Seward, they 
found themselves, to their great annoyance, confronted 
with all the Cabinet except Seward, who had resigned, 
and they were invited by Lincoln to discuss the matter 
in his presence with these Ministers. Chase, to his still 
greater annoyance, found himself, as the principal Min* 
ister there, compelled for decency's sake to defend 
Seward from the very attack which he had helped to 
instigate. The deputation withdrew, not sure that, after 
all, it wanted Seward removed. Chase next day tendered, 
as was natural, his resignation. Lincoln was able, now 
that he had the resignations of both men, to persuade 
both of their joint duty to continue in the public service. 
By this remarkable piece of riding he saved the Union 
from a great danger. The Democratic opposition, not 
actually to the prosecution of the war, but to any and 
every measure essential for it, was now developing, and 
a serious division, such as at this stage any important 
resignation would have produced in the ranks of the 
Republicans, or, as they now called themselves, the 
ik Union men," would have been perilous. 

On the first day of January, 1863, the President signed 
the further Proclamation needed to give effect to eman- 
cipation. The small portions of the South which were 
not in rebellion were duly excepted; the naval and mili- 
tary authorities were ordered to maintain the freedom 



330 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

of the slaves seeking their protection; the slaves were 
enjoined to abstain from violence and to " labour faith- 
fully for reasonable wages " if opportunity were given 
them; all suitable slaves were to be taken into armed 
service, especially for garrison duties. Before the end 
of 1863, a hundred thousand coloured men were already 
serving, as combatants or as labourers, on military work 
in about equal number. They were needed, for volun- 
teering was getting slack, and the work of guarding and 
repairing railway lines was specially repellent to North- 
ern volunteers. The coloured regiments fought well; 
they behaved well in every way. Atrocious threats of 
vengeance on them and their white officers were officially 
uttered by Jefferson Davis, but, except for one hideous 
massacre wrought in the hottest of hot blood, only a few 
crimes by individuals were committed in execution of 
these threats. To Lincoln himself it was a stirring 
thought that when democratic government was finally 
vindicated and restored by the victory of the Union, 
" then there will be some black men who can remember 
that with silent tongue and clenched teeth and steady eye 
and well-poised bayonet they have helped mankind on to 
this great consummation." There was, however, preju- 
dice at first among many Northern officers against negro 
enlistment. The greatest of the few great American 
artists, St. Gaudens, commemorated in sculpture (as the 
donor of the new playing fields at Harvard commem- 
orated by his gift) the action of a brilliant and popular 
Massachusetts officer, Robert Gould Shaw, who set the 
example of leaving his own beloved regiment to take 
command of a coloured regiment, at the head of which 
he died, gallantly leading them and gallantly followed 
by them in a desperate fight. 

It was easier to raise and train these negro soldiers 
than to arrange for the control, shelter, and employment 
of the other refugees who crowded especially to the pro- 
tection of Grant's army in the West. The efforts made 
for their benefit cannot be related here, but the recollec- 
tions of Army Chaplain John Eaton, whom Grant 



EMANCIPATION 33 1 

selected to take charge of them in the West, throw a 
little more light on Lincoln and on the spirit of his deal- 
ing with " the nigger question." When Eaton after some 
time had to come to Washington, upon the business of 
his charge and to visit the President, he received that 
impression, of versatile power and of easy mastery over 
many details as well as over broad issues, which many 
who worked under Lincoln have described, but he was 
above all struck with the fact that from a very slight 
experience in early life Lincoln had gained a knowledge 
of negro character such as very few indeed in the North 
possessed. He was subjected to many seemingly trivial 
questions, of which he was quick enough to see the grave 
purpose, about all sorts of persons and things in the 
West, but he was also examined closely, in a way which 
commanded his fullest respect as an expert, about the 
ideas, understanding, and expectations of the ordinary 
negroes under his care, and more particularly as to the 
past history and the attainments of the few negroes who 
had become prominent men, and who therefore best illus- 
trated the real capacities of their race. Later visits to 
the capital and to Lincoln deepened this impression, and 
convinced Eaton, though by trifling signs, of the rare 
quality of Lincoln's sympathy. Once, after Eaton's diffi- 
cult business had been disposed of, the President turned 
to relating his own recent worries about a colony of 
negroes which he was trying to establish on a small island 
off Hayti. There flourishes in Southern latitudes a minute 
creature called Dermatophilus penetrans, or the jigger, 
which can inflict great pain on barefooted people by 
housing itself under their toe-nails. This Colony had a 
plague of jiggers, and every expedient for defeating them 
had failed. Lincoln was not merely giving the practical 
attention to this difficulty that might perhaps be ex- 
pected; the Chaplain was amazed to find that at that 
moment, at the turning point of the war, a few days 
only after Vicksburg and Gettysburg, with his enormous 
pre-occupations, the President's mind had room for real 
and keen distress about the toes of the blacks in the Cow 



332 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Island. At the end of yet another interview Eaton was 
startled by the question, put by the President with an air 
of shyness, whether Frederick Douglass, a well-known 
negro preacher, could be induced to visit him. Of course 
he could. Frederick Douglass was then reputed to be 
the ablest man ever born as a negro slave ; he must have 
met many of the best and kindest Northern friends of 
the negro; and he went to Lincoln distressed at some 
points in his policy, particularly at his failure to make 
reprisals for murders of negro prisoners by Southern 
troops. When he came away he was in a state little 
short of ecstasy. It was not because he now understood, 
as he did, Lincoln's policy. Lincoln had indeed won his 
warm approval when he told him " with a quiver in his 
voice " of his horror of killing men in cold blood for 
what had been done by others, and his dread of what 
might follow such a policy; but he had a deeper gratifi- 
cation, the strangeness of which it is sad to realise. " He 
treated me as a man," exclaimed Douglass. " He did 
not let me feel for a moment that there was any differ** 
ence in the colour of our skins." 

Perhaps the hardest effort of speech that Lincoln ever 
essayed was an address to negroes which had to do with 
this very subject of colour. His audience were men who 
had been free from birth or for some time and were 
believed to be leaders among their community. It was 
Lincoln's object to induce some of them to be pioneers 
in an attempt at colonisation in some suitable climate, an 
attempt which he felt must fail if it started with negroes 
whose " intellects were clouded by slavery." He clung 
to these projects of colonisation, as probably the best 
among the various means by which the improvement of 
the negro must be attempted, because their race, " suffer- 
ing the greatest wrong ever inflicted on any people," 
would " yet be far removed from being on an equality 
with the white race " when they ceased to be slaves; a 
" physical difference broader than exists between almost 
any other two races " and constituting " a greater dis- 
advantage to us both," would always set a " ban " upon 



EMANCIPATION 333 

the negroes even where they were best treated in Amer- 
ica. This unpalatable fact he put before them with that 
total absence of pretence which was probably the only 
possible form of tact in such a discussion, with no affecta- 
tion of a hope that progress would remove it or of a 
desire that the ordinary white man should lose the in- 
stinct that kept him apart from the black. But this only 
makes more apparent his simple recognition of an equal- 
ity and fellowship which did exist between him and his 
hearers in a larger matter than that of social intercourse 
or political combination. His appeal to their capacity 
for taking large and unselfish views was as direct and as 
confident as in his addresses to his own people; it was 
made in the language of a man to whom the public spirit 
which might exist among black people was of the same 
quality as that which existed among white, in whose be- 
lief he and his hearers could equally find happiness in 
" being worthy of themselves " and in realising the 
V claim of kindred to the great God who made them." 

It may be well here, without waiting to trace further 
the course of the war, in which at the point where we 
left it the slow but irresistible progress of conquest was 
about to set in, to recount briefly the later stages of the 
abolition of slavery in America. In 1863 it became ap- 
parent that popular feeling in Missouri and in Maryland 
was getting ripe for abolition. Bills were introduced 
into Congress to compensate their States if they did away 
with slavery; the compensation was to be larger if the 
abolition was immediate and not gradual. There was a 
majority in each House for these Bills, but the Demo- 
cratic minority was able to kill them in the House of 
Representatives by the methods of " filibustering," or, as 
we call it, obstruction, to which the procedure of that 
body se^ms well adapted. The Republican majority 
had not been very zealous for the Bills; its members 
asked " why compensate for a wrong " which they had 
begun to feel would soon be abolished without compensa- 
tion; but their leaders at least did their best for the Bills. 
It would have been idle after the failure of these pro- 



334 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

posals to introduce the Bills that had been contemplated 
for buying out the loyal slave owners in West Virginia, 
Kentucky, and Tennessee, which was now fast being re- 
gained for the Union. Lincoln after his Message of 
December, 1862, recognised it as useless for him to press 
again the principles of gradual emancipation or of com- 
pensation, as to which it is worth remembrance that the 
compensation which he proposed was for loyal and dis- 
loyal owners alike. His Administration, however, bought 
every suitable slave in Delaware for service (service as 
a free man) in the Army. In the course of 1864 a re- 
markable development of public opinion began to be 
manifest in the States chiefly concerned. In the autumn 
of that year Maryland, whose representatives had paid 
so little attention to Lincoln two years before, passed an 
Amendment to the State Constitution abolishing slavery 
without compensation. A movement in the same direc- 
tion was felt to be making progress in Kentucky and 
Tennessee; and Missouri followed Maryland's example 
in January, 1865. Meanwhile, Louisiana had been re- 
conquered, and the Unionists in these States, constantly 
encouraged and protected by Lincoln when Congress 
looked upon them somewhat coldly or his generals showed 
jealousy of their action, had banded themselves together 
to form State Governments with Constitutions that for- 
bade slavery. Lincoln, it may be noted, had suggested 
to Louisiana that it would be well to frame some plan 
by which the best educated of the negroes should be ad- 
mitted to the franchise. Four years after his death a 
Constitutional Amendment was passed by which any dis- 
tinction as to franchise on the ground of race or colour 
is forbidden in America. The policy of giving the vote 
to negroes indiscriminately had commended itself to the 
cold pedantry of some persons, including Chase, on the 
ground of some natural right of all men to the suffrage ; 
but it was adopted as the most effective protection for 
the negroes against laws, as to vagrancy and the like, by 
which it was feared they might practically be enslaved 
again. Whatever the excuse for it, it would seem to have 



EMANCIPATION 335 

proved in fact a great obstacle to healthy relations be- 
tween the two races. The true policy in such a matter 
is doubtless that which Rhodes and other statesmen 
adopted in the Cape Colony and which Lincoln had ad- 
vocated in the case of Louisiana. It would be absurd 
to imagine that the spirit which could champion the rights 
of the negro and yet face fairly the abiding difficulty of 
his case died in America with Lincoln, but it lost for many 
a year to come its only great exponent. 

But the question of overwhelming importance, be- 
tween the principles of slavery and of freedom, was ready 
for final decision when local opinion in six slave States 
was already moving as we have seen. The Republican 
Convention of 1864, which again chose Lincoln as its 
candidate for the Presidency, declared itself in favour of 
a Constitutional Amendment to abolish slavery once for 
all throughout America. Whether the first suggestion 
came from him or not, it is known that Lincoln's private 
influence was energetically used to procure this resolu- 
tion of the Convention. In his Message to Congress in 
1864 he urged the initiation of this Amendment. Ob- 
servation of elections made it all but certain that the 
next Congress would be ready to take this action, but 
Lincoln pleaded with the present doubtful Congress for 
the advantage which would be gained by ready, and if 
possible, unanimous concurrence in the North in the 
course which would soon prevail. The necessary Resolu- 
tion was passed in the Senate, but in the House of Repre- 
sentatives till within a few hours of the vote it was said 
to be " the toss of a copper " whether the majority of 
two-thirds, required for such a purpose, would be ob- 
tained. In the efforts made on either side to win over 
the few doubtful voters Lincoln had taken his part. Right 
or wrong, he was not the man to see a great and benefi- 
cent Act in danger of postponement without being 
tempted to secure it if he could do so by terrifying some 
unprincipled and white-livered opponents. With the 
knowledge that he was always acquiring of the persons 
in politics, he had been able to pick out two Democratic 



336 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Congressmen who were fit for his purpose — presumably 
they lay under suspicion of one of those treasonable 
practices which martial law under Lincoln treated very 
unceremoniously. He sent for them. He told them 
that the gaining of a certain number of doubtful votes 
would secure the Resolution. He told them that he was 
President of the United States. He told them that the 
President of the United States in war time exercised 
great and dreadful powers. And he told them that he 
looked to them personally to get him those votes. 
Whether this wrong manoeuvre affected the result or not, 
on January 31, 1865, tne Resolution was passed in the 
House by a two-thirds majority with a few votes to spare, 
and the great crowd in the galleries, defying all prece- 
dent, broke out in a demonstration of enthusiasm which 
some still recall as the most memorable scene in their 
lives. On December 18 of that year, when Lincoln had 
been eight months dead, William Seward, as Secretary 
of State, was able to certify that the requisite majority 
of States had passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the 
Constitution, and the cause of that " irrepressible con- 
flict " which he had foretold, and in which he had played 
a weak but valuable part, was for ever extinguished. 

At the present day, alike in the British Empire and in 
America, the unending difficulty of wholesome human 
relations between races of different and unequal develop- 
ment exercises many minds; but this difficulty cannot ob- 
scure the great service done by those who, first in Eng- 
land and later and more hardly in America, stamped out 
that cardinal principle of error that any race is without 
its human claim. Among these men William Lloyd Gar- 
rison lived to see the fruit of his labours, and to know 
and have friendly intercourse with Lincoln. There have 
been some comparable instances in which men with such 
different characters and methods have unconsciously con- 
spired for a common end, as these two did when Garrison 
was projecting the " Liberator V and Lincoln began 
shaping himself for honourable public work in the vague. 
The part that Lincoln played in these events did not 



EMANCIPATION 337 

seem to him a personal achievement of his own. He ap- 
peared to himself rather as an instrument. " I claim 
not," he once said in this connection, " to have controlled 
events, but confess plainly that events have controlled 
me." In 1864, when a petition was sent to him from 
some children that there should be no more child slaves, 
he wrote, " Please tell these little people that I am very 
glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous 
sympathy, and that, while I have not the power to grant 
all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has, 
and that, as it seems, He wills to do it." Yet, at least, 
he redeemed the boyish pledge that has been, fancifully 
perhaps, ascribed to him; each opportunity that to his 
judgment ever presented itself of striking some blow for 
human freedom was taken; the blows were timed and 
directed by the full force of his sagacity, and they were 
never restrained by private ambition or fear. It is prob- 
able that upon that cool review, which in the case of this 
singular figure is difficult, the sense of his potent accom- 
plishment would not diminish, but increase. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 

I. The War to the End of 1863. 

The events of the Eastern theatre of war have been 
followed into the early summer of 1863, when Lee was 
for the second time about to invade the North. The 
Western theatre of war has been left unnoticed since the 
end of May, 1862. From that time to the end of the 
year no definite progress was made here by either side, 
but here also the perplexities of the military administra- 
tion were considerable; and in Lincoln's life it must be 
noted that in these months the strain of anxiety about the 
Eastern army and about the policy of emancipation was 
accompanied by acute doubt in regard to the conduct of 
war in the West. 

When Halleck had been summoned from the West, 
Lincoln had again a general by his side in Washington to 
exercise command under him of all the armies. Halleck 
was a man of some intellectual distinction who might be 
expected to take a broad view of the war as a whole; 
this and his freedom from petty feelings, as to which 
Lincoln's known opinion of him can be corroborated, 
doubtless made him useful as an adviser; nor for a con- 
siderable time was there any man with apparently better 
qualifications for his position. But Lincoln soon found, 
as has been seen, that Halleck lacked energy of will, and 
cannot have been long in discovering that his judgment 
was not very good. The President had thus to make 
the best use he could of expert advice upon which he 
would not have been justified in relying very fully. 

When Halleck arrived at Corinth at the end of May, 
1862, the whole of Western and Middle Tennessee was 
for the time clear of the enemy, and he turned his atten- 

338 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 339 

tion at once to the long delayed project of rescuing the 
Unionists in Eastern Tennessee, which was occupied by 
a Confederate army under General Kirby Smith. His 
object was to seize Chattanooga, which lay about 150 
miles to the east of him, and invade Eastern Tennessee 
by way of the valley of the Tennessee River, which cuts 
through the mountains behind Chattanooga. With this 
in view he would doubtless have been wise if he had first 
continued his advance with his whole force against the 
Confederate army under Beauregard, which after evacu- 
ating Corinth had fallen back to rest and recruit in a far 
healthier situation 50 miles further south. Beauregard 
would have been obliged either to fight him with in- 
ferior numbers or to shut himself up in the fortress of 
Vicksburg. As it was, Halleck spent the month of June 
merely in repairing the railway line which runs from 
Corinth in the direction of Chattanooga. When he was 
called to Washington he left Grant, who for several 
months past had been kept idle as his second in com- 
mand, in independent command of a force which was to 
remain near the Mississippi confronting Beauregard, but 
he restricted him to a merely defensive part by ordering 
him to keep a part of his army ready to send to Buell 
whenever that general needed it, as he soon did. Buell, 
who again took over his former independent command, 
was ordered by Halleck to advance on Chattanooga, 
using Corinth as his base of supply. Buell had wished 
that the base for the advance upon Chattanooga should 
be transferred to Nashville, in the centre of Tennessee, 
in which case the line of railway communication would 
have been shorter and also less exposed to raids by the 
Southern cavalry. After Halleck had gone, Buell ob- 
tained permission to effect this change of base. The 
whole month of June had been wasted in repairing the 
railway with a view to Halleck's faulty plan. When 
Buell himself was allowed to proceed on his own lines and 
was approaching Chattanooga, his communications with 
Nashville were twice, in the middle of July and in the 
middle of August, cut by Confederate cavalry raids, which 



340 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

did such serious damage as to impose great delay upon 
him. In the end of August and beginning of September 
Kirby Smith, whose army had been strengthened by 
troops transferred from Beauregard, crossed the moun- 
tains from East Tennessee by passes some distance north- 
east of Chattanooga, and invaded Kentucky, sending de- 
tachments to threaten Louisville on the Indiana border 
of Kentucky and Cincinnati in Ohio. It was necessary 
for Buell to retreat, when, after a week or more of un- 
certainty, it became clear that Kirby Smith's main force 
was committed to this invasion. Meanwhile General 
Bragg, who, owing to the illness of Beauregard, had suc- 
ceeded to his command, left part of his force to hold 
Grant in check, marched with the remainder to support 
Kirby Smith, and succeeded in placing himself between 
BuelFs army and Louisville, to protect which from Kirby 
Smith had become BuelFs first object. It seems that 
Bragg, who could easily have been reinforced by Kirby 
Smith, had now an opportunity of fighting Buell with 
great advantage. But the Confederate generals, who 
mistakenly believed that Kentucky was at heart with 
them, saw an imaginary political gain in occupying Frank- 
fort, the State capital, and formally setting up a new 
State Government there. Bragg therefore marched on 
to join Kirby Smith at Frankfort, which was well to the 
east of BuelFs line of retreat, and Buell was able to reach 
Louisville unopposed by September 25. 

These events were watched in the North with all the 
more anxiety because the Confederate invasion of Ken- 
tucky began just about the time of the second battle of 
Bull Run, and Buell arrived at Louisville within a week 
after the battle of Antietam while people were wondering 
how that victory would be followed up. Men of intelli- 
gence and influence, especially in the Western States, were 
loud in their complaints of BuelFs want of vigour. It is 
remarkable that the Unionists of Kentucky, who suffered 
the most through his supposed faults, expressed their con- 
fidence in him; but his own soldiers did not like him, for 
he was a strict disciplinarian without either tact or any 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 341 

quality which much impressed them. Their reports to 
their homes in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, from which 
they mostly came, increased the feeling against him which 
was arising in those States, and his relations with the 
Governors of Ohio and Indiana, who were busy in send- 
ing him recruits and whose States were threatened with 
invasion, seem, wherever the fault may have lain, to 
have been unfortunate. Buell's most powerful friend had 
been McClellan, and by an irrational but unavoidable 
process of thought the real dilatoriness of McClellan be- 
came an argument for blaming Buell as well. Halleck 
defended him loyally, but this by now probably seemed 
to Lincoln the apology of one irresolute man for another. 
Stanton, whose efficiency in the business of the War De- 
partment gave him great weight, had become eager for 
the removal of Buell. Lincoln expected that as soon as 
Buell could cover Louisville he would take the offensive 
promptly. His army appears to have exceeded in num- 
bers, though not very much, the combined forces of Bragg 
and Kirby Smith, and except as to cavalry it was prob- 
ably as good in quality. If energetically used by Halleck 
some months before, the Western armies should have 
been strong enough to accomplish great results; arid if 
the attempt had been made at first to raise much larger 
armies, it seems likely that the difficulties of training and 
organisation and command would have increased out of 
proportion to any gain. Buell remained some days at 
Louisville itself, receiving reinforcements which were 
considerable, but consisted mainly of raw recruits. While 
he was there orders arrived from Lincoln removing him 
and appointing his second in command, the Virginian 
Thomas, in his place. This was a wise choice; Thomas 
was one of the four Northern generals who won abiding 
distinction in the Civil War. But Thomas felt the in- 
justice which was done to Buell, and he refused the com- 
mand in a letter magnanimously defending him. The 
fact was that Lincoln had rescinded his orders before 
they were received, for he had issued them under the 
belief that Buell was remaining on the defensive, but 



342 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

learnt immediately that an offensive movement was in 
progress, and had no intention of changing commanders 
under those circumstances. 

On October 8 a battle, which began in an accidental 
minor conflict, took place between Buell with 58,000 men 
and Bragg with considerably less than half that number 
of tried veterans. Buell made little use of his superior 
numbers, for which the fault may have lain with the corps 
commander who first became engaged and who did not 
report at once to him; the part of BuelFs army which 
bore the brunt of the fighting suffered heavy losses, which 
made a painful impression in the North, and the public 
outcry against him, which had begun as soon as Kentucky 
was invaded by the Confederates, now increased. After 
the battle Bragg fell back and effected a junction with 
Kirby Smith. Their joint forces were not very far in- 
ferior to Buell's in numbers, but after a few more days 
Bragg determined to evacuate Kentucky, in which his 
hope of raising many recruits had been disappointed. 
Buell, on perceiving his intention, pursued him some dis- 
tance, but, finding the roads bad for the movement of 
large bodies of troops, finally took up a position at 
Bowling Green, on the railway to the north of Nashville, 
intending later in the autumn to move a little south of 
Nashville and there to wait for the spring before again 
moving on Chattanooga. He was urged from Washing- 
ton to press forward towards Chattanooga at once, but 
replied decidedly that he was unable to do so, and added 
that if a change of command was desired the present was 
a suitable time for it. At the end of October he was 
removed from command. In the meantime the Confed- 
erate forces that had been left to oppose Grant had at- 
tacked him and been signally defeated in two engage- 
ments, in each of which General Rosecrans, who was 
serving under Grant, was in immediate command on the 
Northern side. Rosecrans, who therefore began to be 
looked upon as a promising general, and indeed was one 
of those who, in the chatter of the time, were occasion- 
ally spoken of as suitable for a " military dictatorship," 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 343 

was now put in Buell's place, which Thomas had once 
refused. He advanced to Nashville, but was as firm as 
Buell in refusing to go further till he had accumulated 
rations enough to make him for a time independent of the 
railway. Ultimately he moved on Murfreesborough, 
some thirty miles further in the direction of Chattanooga. 
Here on December 31, 1862, Bragg, with somewhat in- 
ferior numbers, attacked him and gained an initial suc- 
cess, which Rosecrans and his subordinates, Thomas and 
Sheridan, were able to prevent him from making good. 
Bragg' s losses were heavy, and, after waiting a few days 
in the hope that Rosecrans might retreat first, he fell 
back to a point near the Cumberland mountains a little in 
advance of Chattanooga. Thus the battle of Murfrees- 
borough counted as a victory to the North, a slight set- 
off to the disaster at Fredericksburg a little while before. 
But it had no very striking consequences. For over six 
months Rosecrans proceeded no further. The Northern 
armies remained in more secure possession of all Ten- 
nessee west of the mountains than they had obtained in 
the first half of 1862; but the length of their communi- 
cations and the great superiority of the South in cavalry, 
which could threaten those communications, suspended 
their further advance. Lincoln urged that their army 
could subsist on the country which it invaded, but Buell 
and Rosecrans treated the idea as impracticable; in fact, 
till a little later all Northern generals so regarded it. 

Thus Chattanooga, which it was hoped would be occu- 
pied soon after Halleck had occupied Corinth, remained 
in Southern hands for more than a year after that, not- 
withstanding the removal of Buell, to whom this disap- 
pointment and the mortifying invasion of Kentucky were 
at first attributed. This was rightly felt to be unsatis- 
factory, but the chief blame that can now be imputed falls 
upon the mistakes of Halleck while he was still com- 
manding in the West. There is no reason to suppose that 
Buell had any exceptional amount of intuition or of en- 
ergy and it was right to demand that a general with both 
these qualities should be appointed if he could be found. 



344 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

But he was at least a prudent officer, of fair capacity, 
doing his best. The criticisms upon him, of which the 
well informed were lavish, were uttered without apprecia- 
tion of practical difficulties or of the standard by which 
he was really to be judged. So, with far more justice 
than McClellan, he has been numbered among the mis- 
used generals. Lincoln, there is no doubt, had watched 
his proceedings, as he watched those of Rosecrans after 
him, with a feeling of impatience, and set him down as 
unenterprising and obstinate. In one point his Adminis- 
tration was much to blame in its treatment of the Western 
commanders. It became common political talk that the 
way to get victories was to treat unsuccessful generals 
almost as harshly as the French in the Revolution were 
understood to have treated them. Lincoln did not go 
thus far, but it was probably with his authority that be- 
fore Buell was removed Halleck, with reluctance on his 
own part, wrote a letter referring to this prevalent idea 
and calculated to put about among the Western com- 
manders an expectation that whichever of them first did 
something notable would be put over his less successful 
colleagues. Later on, and, as we can hardly doubt, with 
Lincoln's consent, Grant and Rosecrans were each in- 
formed that the first of them to win a victory would get 
the vacant major-generalship in the United States Army 
in place of his present volunteer rank. This was not the 
way to handle men with proper professional pride, and 
it is one of those cases, which are strangely few, where 
Lincoln made the sort of mistake that might have been 
expected from his want of training and not from his 
native generosity. But in the main his treatment of this 
difficult question was sound. Sharing as he did the pre- 
vailing impatience with Buell, he had no intention of 
yielding to it till there was a real prospect that a change 
of generals would be a change for the better. When the 
appointment of Thomas was proposed there really was 
such a prospect. When Rosecrans was eventually put in 
Buell's place the result was disappointing to Lincoln, but 
it was evidently not a bad appointment, and a situation 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 345 

had then arisen in which it would have been folly to re- 
tain Buell if any capable successor to him could be found; 
for the Governors of Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, of whom 
the first named was reputed the ablest of the u war Gov- 
ernors " in the West, and on whom his army depended 
for recruits, now combined in representations against him 
which could not be ignored. Lincoln, who could not 
have personal acquaintance with the generals of the West- 
ern armies as he had with those in the East, was, it should 
be observed, throughout unceasing in his efforts to get 
the fullest and clearest impression of them that he could; 
he was always, as it has been put, " taking measure- 
ments " of men, and a good deal of what seemed idle 
and gossipy talk with chance visitors, who could tell him 
little incidents or give him new impressions, seems to 
have had this serious purpose. For the first half of the 
war the choice of men for high commands was the most 
harassing of all the difficulties of his administration. 
There is no doubt of his constant watchfulness to discern 
and promote merit. He was certainly beset by the feel- 
ing that generals were apt to be wanting in the vigour 
and boldness which the conduct of the war demanded, 
but, though this in some cases probably misled him, upon 
the whole there was good reason for it. On the other 
hand, it must be considered that all this while he knew 
himself to be losing influence through his supposed want 
of energy in the war, and that he was under strong and 
unceasing pressure from every influential quarter to dis- 
miss every general who caused disappointment. News- 
papers and private letters of the time demonstrate that 
there was intense impatience against him for not pro- 
ducing victorious generals. This being so, his own pa- 
tience in this matter and his resolution to give those under 
him a fair chance appear very remarkable and were cer- 
tainly very wise. 

We have come, however, to the end, not of all the 
clamour against Lincoln, but of his own worst perplex- 
ities. In passing to the operations further west we are 
passing to an instance in which Lincoln felt it right to 



346 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

stand to the end by a decried commander, and that de- 
cried commander proved to possess the very qualities foi 
which he had vainly looked in others. The reverse side 
of General Grant's fame is well enough known to the 
world. Before the war he had been living under a cloud. 
In the autumn of 1862, while his army lay between 
Corinth and Memphis, the cloud still rested on his repu- 
tation. In spite of the glory he had won for a moment 
at Fort Donelson, large circles were ready to speak of 
him simply as an " incompetent and disagreeable man." 
The crowning work of his life was accomplished with 
terrible bloodshed which was often attributed to callous- 
ness and incapacity on his part The eight years of his 
Presidency afterwards, which cannot properly be dis- 
cussed here, added at the best no lustre to his memory. 
Later still, when he visited Europe as a celebrity the gen- 
eral impression which he created seems to be contained 
in the words " a rude man." Thus the Grant that we 
discover in the recollections of a few loyal and loving 
friends, and in the memoirs which he himself began when 
late in life he lost his money and which he finished with 
the pains of death upon him, is a surprising, in some ways 
pathetic, figure. He had been a shy country boy, ready 
enough at all the work of a farm and good with horses, 
but with none of the business aptitude that make a suc- 
cessful farmer, when his father made him go to West 
Point Here he showed no great promise and made few 
friends; his health became delicate, and he wanted to 
leave the army and become a teacher of mathematics. 
But the Mexican War, one of the most unjust in all his- 
tory, as he afterwards said, broke out, and — so he later 
thought — saved his life from consumption by keeping 
him in the open air. After that he did retire, failed at 
farming and other ventures, and at thirty-nine, when the 
Civil War began, was. as has been seen, a shabby-look- 
ing, shiftless fellow, pretty far gone in the habit of drink, 
and more or less occupied about a leather business of his 
father's. Rough in appearance and in manner he re- 
mained — the very opposite of smart, the very opposite 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 347 

of versatile, the very opposite of expansive in speech or 
social intercourse. Unlike many rough people, he had a 
really simple character — truthful, modest, and kind; 
without varied interests, or complicated emotions, or 
much sense of fun, but thinking intensely on the problems 
that he did see before him, and in his silent way keenly 
sensitive on most of the points on which it is well to be 
sensitive. His friends reckoned up the very few occa- 
sions on which he was ever seen to be angry; only one 
could be recalled on which he was angry on his own ac- 
count; the cruelty of a driver to animals in his supply 
train, heartless neglect in carrying out the arrangements 
he had made for the comfort of the sick and wounded, 
these were the sort of occasions which broke down 
Grant's habitual self-possession and good temper. " He 
was never too anxious," wrote Chaplain Eaton, who, 
having been set by him in charge of the negro refugees 
with his army, had excellent means of judging, " never 
too preoccupied with the great problems that beset him, 
to take a sincere and humane interest in the welfare of 
the most subordinate labourer dependent upon him." 
And he had delicacy of feeling in other ways. Once in 
the crowd at some hotel, in which he mingled an undis- 
tinguished figure, an old officer under him tried on a 
lecherous story for the entertainment of the General, who 
did not look the sort of man to resent it; Grant, who did 
not wish to set down an older man roughly, and had no 
ready phrases, but had, as it happens, a sensitive skin, 
was observed to blush to the roots of his hair in exquisite 
discomfort. It would be easy to multiply little recorded 
traits of this somewhat unexpected kind, which give grace 
to the memory of his determination in a duty which be- 
came very grim. 

The simplicity of character as well as manner which 
endeared him to a few close associates was probably a 
very poor equipment for the Presidency, which, from 
that very simplicity, he afterwards treated as his due; 
and Grant presented in some ways as great a contrast as 
can be imagined to the large and complex mind of Lin- 



348 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

coin. But he was the man that Lincoln had yearned for. 
Whatever degree of military skill may be ascribed to him, 
he had in the fullest measure the moral attributes of a 
commander. The sense that the war could be put through 
and must be put through possessed his soul. He was in- 
susceptible to personal danger — at least, so observers 
said, though he himself told a different story — and he 
taught himself to keep a quiet mind in the presence of 
losses, rout in battle, or failure in a campaign. It was 
said that he never troubled himself with fancies as to 
what the einemy might be doing, and he confessed to 
having constantly told himself that the enemy was as 
much afraid of him as he of the enemy. His military 
talent was doubled in efficacy by his indomitable con- 
stancy. In one sense, moreover, and that a wholly good 
sense, he was a political general; for he had constantly 
before his mind the aims of the Government which em- 
ployed him, perceiving early that there were only two 
possible ends to the war, the complete subjugation of the 
South or the complete failure of the Union; perceiving 
also that there was no danger of exhausting the resources 
of the North and great danger of discouraging its spirit, 
while the position of the South was in this respect the 
precise contrary. He was therefore the better able to 
serve the State as a soldier, because throughout he meas- 
ured by a just standard the ulterior good or harm of 
success or failure in his enterprises. 

The affectionate confidence which existed between Lee 
and " Stonewall " Jackson till the latter was killed at 
Chancellorsville had a parallel in the endearing friend- 
ship which sprung up between Grant and his principal 
subordinate, William T. Sherman, who was to bear a 
hardly less momentous part than his own in the conclu- 
sion of the war. Sherman was a man of quick wits and 
fancy, bright and mercurial disposition, capable of being 
a delightful companion to children, and capable of being 
sharp and inconsiderate to duller subordinates. It 
is a high tribute both to this brilliant soldier and to 
Grant himself that he always regarded Grant as hav- 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 349 

ing made him, not only by his confidence but by his 
example. 

As has been said, Grant was required to remain on the 
defensive between Memphis and Corinth, which mark 
the line of the Northern frontier at this period, while 
Buell was advancing on Chattanooga. Later, while the 
Confederates were invading Kentucky further east, at- 
tacks were also directed against Grant to keep him quiet. 
These were defeated, though Grant was unable to follow 
up his success at the time. When the invasion of Ken- 
tucky had collapsed and the Confederates under Bragg 
were retreating before Buell and his successor out of 
Middle Tennessee, it became possible for Grant and for 
Halleck and the Government at Washington to look to 
completing the conquest of the Mississippi River. The 
importance to the Confederates of a hold upon the 
Mississippi has been pointed out; if it were lost the whole 
of far South-West would manifestly be lost with it; in the 
North, on the other hand, public sentiment was strongly 
set upon freeing the navigation of the great river. The 
Confederacy now held the river from the fortress of 
Vicksburg, which after taking New Orleans Admiral 
Farragut had attacked in vain, down to Port Hudson, 
1 20 miles further south, where the Confederate forces 
had since then seized and fortified another point of 
vantage. Vicksburg, it will be observed, lies 175 to 180 
miles south of Memphis, or from Grand Junction, be- 
tween Memphis and Corinth, the points in the occupa- 
tion of the North which must serve Grant as a base. At 
Vicksburg itself, and for some distance south of it, a line 
of bluffs or steep-sided hills lying east of the Mississippi 
comes right up to the edge of the river. The river as it 
approaches these bluffs makes a sudden bend to the north- 
east and then again to the south-west, so that two suc- 
cessive reaches of the stream, each from three to four 
miles long, were commanded by the Vicksburg guns, 200 
feet above the valley; the eastward or landward side of 
the fortress was also well situated for defence. To the 
north of Vicksburg the country on the east side of the 



350 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Mississippi is cut up by innumerable streams and 
" bayous " or marshy creeks, winding and intersecting 
amid a dense growth of cedars. The North, with a 
flotilla under Admiral Porter, commanded the Mississippi 
itself, and the Northern forces could freely move along 
its western shore to the impregnable river face of Vicks- 
burg beyond. But the question of how to get safely to 
the assailable side of Vicksburg presented formidable 
difficulty to Grant and to the Government. 

Grant's operations began in November, 1862. Ad- 
vancing directly southward along the railway from Mem- 
phis with the bulk of his forces, he after a while detached 
Sherman with a force which proceeded down the Mis- 
sissippi to the mouth of the Yazoo, a little north-west of 
Vicksburg. Here Sherman was to land, and, it was 
hoped, surprise the enemy at Vicksburg itself while the 
bulk of the enemy's forces were fully occupied by Grant's 
advance from the north. But Grant's lengthening com- 
munications were cut up by a cavalry raid, and he had to 
retreat, while Sherman came upon an enemy fully pre- 
pared and sustained a defeat a fortnight after Burnside's 
defeat at Fredericksburg. This was the first of a long 
series of failures during which Grant, who for his part 
was conspicuously frank and loyal in his relations with 
the Government, received upon the whole the fullest con- 
fidence and support from them. There occurred, how- 
ever, about this time an incident which was trying to 
Grant, and of which the very simple facts must be stated, 
since it was the last of the occasions upon which severe 
criticism of Lincoln's military administration has been 
founded. General McClernand was an ambitious Illinois 
lawyer-politician of energy and courage; he was an old 
acquaintance of Lincoln's, and an old opponent; since the 
death of Douglas he and another lawyer-politician, 
Logan, had been the most powerful of the Democrats in 
Illinois; both were zealous in the war and had joined the 
Army upon its outbreak. Logan served as a general 
under Grant with confessed ability. It must be repeated 
that, North and South, former civilians had to be placed 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 351 

in command for lack of enough soldiers of known 
capacity to go round, and that many of them, like Logan 
and like the Southern general, Polk, who was a bishop 
in the American Episcopal Church, did very good service. 
McClernand had early obtained high rank and had shown 
no sign as yet of having less aptitude for his new career 
than other men of similar antecedents. Grant, however, 
distrusted him, and proved to be right. In October, 
1862, McClernand came to Lincoln with an offer of his 
personal services in raising troops from Illinois, Indiana, 
and Iowa, with a special view to clearing the Mississippi. 
He of course expected to be himself employed in this 
operation. Recruiting was at a low ebb, and it would 
have been folly to slight this offer. McClernand did in 
fact raise volunteers to the number of a whole army 
corps. He was placed under Grant in command of the 
expedition down the Mississippi which had already 
started under Sherman. Sherman's great promise had 
not yet been proved to any one but Grant; he appears at 
this time to have come under the disapproval of the Joint 
Committee of Congress on the War, and the newspaper 
Press had not long before announced, with affected re- 
gret, the news that he had become insane. McClernand, 
arriving just after Sherman's defeat near Vicksburg, fell 
in at once with a suggestion of his to attack the Post of 
Arkansas, a Confederate stronghold in the State of 
Arkansas and upon the river of that name, from the 
shelter of which Confederate gunboats had some chance 
of raiding the Mississippi above Vicksburg. The expe- 
dition succeeded in this early in January, 1863, and was 
then recalled to join Grant. This was a mortification to 
McClernand, who had hoped for a command independent 
of Grant. In his subsequent conduct he seems to have 
shown incapacity; he was certainly insubordinate to Grant, 
and he busied himself in intrigues against him, with such 
result as will soon be seen. As soon as Grant told the 
Administration that he was dissatisfied with McClernand, 
he was assured that he was at liberty to remove him from 



352 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

command. This he eventually did after some months 
of trial. 

In the first three months of 1863, while the army of 
the Potomac, shattered at Fredericksburg, was being pre- 
pared for the fresh attack upon Lee which ended at 
Chancellorsville, and while Bragg and Rosecrans lay con- 
fronting each other in Middle Tennessee, each content 
that the other was afraid to weaken himself by sending 
troops to the Mississippi, Grant was occupied in a series 
of enterprises apparently more cautious than that in 
which he eventually succeeded, but each in its turn futile. 
An attempt was made to render Vicksburg useless by a 
canal cutting across the bend of the Mississippi to the 
west of that fortress. Then Grant endeavoured with the 
able co-operation of Admiral Porter and his flotilla to 
secure a safe landing on the Yazoo, which enters the 
Mississippi a little above Vicksburg, so that he could 
move his army to the rear of Vicksburg by this route. 
Next Grant and Porter tried to establish a sure line of 
water communication from a point far up the Mississippi 
through an old canal, then somehow obstructed, into the 
Upper waters of the Yazoo and so to a point on that 
river 30 or 40 miles to the north-east of Vicksburg, by 
which they would have turned the right of the main Con- 
federate force; but this was frustrated by the Confed- 
erates, who succeeded in establishing a strong fort further 
up the Yazoo. Yet a further effort was made to estab' 
lish a waterway by a canal quitting the Mississippi about 
40 miles north of Vicksburg and communicating, through 
lakes, bayous, and smaller rivers, with its great tributary 
the Red River far to the south. This, like the first canal 
attempted, would have rendered Vicksburg useless. 

Each of these projects failed in turn. The tedious 
engineering work which two of them involved was ren- 
dered more depressing by adverse conditions of weather 
and by ill-health among Grant's men. Natural grumbling 
among the troops was repeated and exaggerated in the 
North. McClernand employed the gift for intrigue, 
which perhaps had helped him to secure his command, in 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 353 

an effort to get Grant removed. It is melancholy to add 
that a good many newspapers at this time began to print 
statements that Grant had again taken to drink. It is 
certain that he was at this time a total abstainer. It is 
said that he had offended the authors of this villainy by 
the restrictions which he had long before found neces- 
sary to put upon information to the Press. Some of the 
men freely confessed afterwards that they had been con- 
vinced of his sobriety, and added the marvellous apology 
that their business was to give the public " the news." 
Able and more honest journalists urged that Grant had 
proved his incompetence. Secretary Chase took up their 
complaints and pressed that Grant should be removed. 
Lincoln, before the outcry against Grant had risen to its 
height, had felt the need of closer information than he 
possessed about the situation on the Mississippi; and 
had hit upon the happy expedient of sending an able 
official of the War Department, who deserved and ob- 
tained the confidence of Grant and his officers, to accom- 
pany the Western army and report to him. Apart, how- 
ever, from the reports he thus received, he had always 
treated the attacks on Grant with contempt. " I cannot 
spare this general; he fights," he said. In reply to com- 
plaints that Grant drank, he enquired (adapting, as he 
knew, George II. 's famous saying about Wolfe) what 
whisky he drank, explaining that he wished to send bar- 
rels of it to some of his other generals. His attitude is 
remarkable, because in his own mind he had not thought 
well of any of Grant's plans after his first failure in 
December; he had himself wished from an early day 
that Grant would take the very course by which he ulti- 
mately succeeded. He let him go his own way, as he 
afterwards told him, from u a general hope that you 
know better than I." 

At the end of March Grant took a memorable deter- 
mination to transfer his whole force to the south of 
Vicksburg and approach it from that direction. He was 
urged by Sherman to give up any further attempt to use 
the river, and, instead, to bring his whole army back to 



354 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Memphis and begin a necessarily slow approach on Vicks- 
burg by the railway. He declared himself that on ordi- 
nary grounds of military prudence this would have been 
the proper course, but he decided for himself that the 
depressing effect of the retreat to Memphis would be 
politically disastrous. At Grand Gulf, 30 miles south of 
Vicksburg, the South possessed another fortified post on 
the river; to reach this Grant required the help of the 
Navy, not only in crossing from the western bank of the 
river, but in transporting the supplies for which the roads 
west of the river were inadequate. Admiral Porter, with 
his gunboats and laden barges, successfully ran the gaunt- 
let of the Vicksburg batteries by night without serious 
damage. Grand Gulf was taken on May 3, and Grant's 
army established at this new base. A further doubt 
now arose. General Banks in Louisiana was at this time 
preparing to besiege Port Hudson. It might be well for 
Grant to go south and join him, and, after reducing Port 
Hudson, return with Banks' forces against Vicksburg. 
This was what now commended itself to Lincoln. In 
the letter of congratulation which some time later he was 
able to send to Grant, after referring to his former 
opinion which had been right, he confessed that he had 
now been wrong. Banks was not yet ready to move, and 
Vicksburg, now seriously threatened, might soon be re- 
inforced. Orders to join Banks, though they were prob- 
ably meant to be discretionary, were actually sent to 
Grant, but too late. He had cut himself loose from his 
base at Grand Gulf and marched his troops north, to live 
with great hardship to themselves on the country and the 
supplies they could take with them. He had with him 
35,000 men. General Pemberton, to whom he had so 
far been opposed, lay covering Vicksburg with 20,000 
and a further force in the city; Joseph Johnston, whom 
he afterwards described as the Southern general who in 
all the war gave him most trouble, had been sent by 
Jefferson Davis tq take supreme command in the West, 
and had collected 11,000 men at Jackson, the capital of 
Mississippi, 45 miles east of Vicksburg. Grant was able 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 355 

to take his enemy in detail. Having broken up Johnston's 
force he defeated Pemberton in a series of battles. His 
victory at Champion's Hill on May 16, not a fortnight 
after Chancellorsville, conveyed to his mind the assurance 
that the North would win the war. An assault on Vicks- 
burg failed with heavy loss. Pemberton was at last 
closely invested in Vicksburg and Grant could establish 
safe communications with the North by way of the lower 
Yazoo and up the Mississippi above its mouth. There 
had been dissension between Pemberton and Johnston, 
who, seeing that gunboats proved able to pass Vicksburg 
in any case, thought that Pemberton, whom he could not 
at the moment hope to relieve, should abandon Vicks- 
burg and try to save his army. Long before Johnston 
could be sufficiently reinforced to attack Grant, Grant's 
force had been raised to 71,000. On July 4, 1863, the 
day of the annual commemoration of national inde- 
pendence, Vicksburg was surrendered. Its garrison, who 
had suffered severely, were well victualled by Grant and 
allowed to go free on parole. Pemberton in his vexation 
treated Grant with peculiar insolence, which provoked a 
singular exhibition of the conqueror's good temper to 
him; and in his despatches to the President, Grant men- 
tioned nothing with greater pride than the absence of a 
word or a sign on the part of his men which could hurt 
the feelings of the fallen. Johnston was forced to aban- 
don the town of Jackson with its large stores to Sherman, 
but could not be pursued in his retreat. On July 9, five 
days later, the defender of Port Hudson, invested shortly 
before by Banks, who had not force enough for an assault, 
heard the news of Vicksburg and surrendered. Lincoln 
could now boast to the North that " the Father of Waters 
again goes unvexed to the sea." 

At the very hour when Vicksburg was surrendered 
Lincoln had been issuing the news of another victory won 
in the preceding three days, which, along with the cap- 
ture of Vicksburg, marked the turning point of the war. 
For more than a month after the battle of Chancellors- 
ville the two opposing armies in the East had lain inac- 



356 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

tive. The Conscription Law, with which we must deal 
later, had recently been passed, and various elements of 
discontent and disloyalty in the North showed a great 
deal of activity. It seems that Jefferson Davis at first 
saw no political advantage in the military risk of invad- 
ing the North. Lee thought otherwise, and was eager 
to follow up his success. At last, early in June, 1863, 
he started northward. This time he aimed at the great 
industrial regions of Pennsylvania, hoping also while 
assailing them to draw Hooker further from Washing- 
ton. Hooker, on first learning that Lee had crossed the 
Rappahannock, entertained the thought of himself going 
south of it and attacking Richmond. Lincoln dissuaded 
him, since he might be " entangled upon the river, like 
an ox jumped half over a fence " ; he could not take 
Richmond for weeks, and his communications might be 
cut; besides, Lincoln added, his true objective point 
throughout was Lee's army and not Richmond. Hooker's 
later movements, in conformity with what he could gather 
of Lee's movements, were prudent and skilful. He re- 
jected a later suggestion of Lincoln's that he should strike 
quickly at the most assailable point in Lee's lengthening 
line of communications, and he was wise, for Lee could 
live on the country he was traversing, and Hooker now 
aimed at covering Philadelphia or Baltimore and Wash- 
ington, according to the direction which Lee might take, 
watching all the while for the moment to strike. He 
found himself hampered in some details by probably in- 
judicious orders of his superior, Halleck, and became 
irritable and querulous; Lincoln had to exercise his sim- 
ple arts to keep him to his duty and to soothe him, and 
was for the moment successful. Suddenly on June 27, 
with a battle in near prospect, Hooker sent in his resigna- 
tion; probably he meant it, but there was no time to 
debate the matter. Probably he had lost confidence in 
himself, as he did before at Chancellorsville. Lincoln 
evidently judged that his state of mind made it wise to 
accept this resignation. He promptly appointed in 
Hooker's place one of his subordinates, General George 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 357 

Meade, a lean, tall, studious, somewhat sharp-tongued 
man, not brilliant or popular or the choice that the army 
would have expected, but with a record in previous cam- 
paigns which made him seem to Lincoln trustworthy, as 
he was. A subordinate command in which he could 
really distinguish himself was later found for Hooker, 
who now took leave of his army in words of marked 
generosity towards Meade. All this while there was great 
excitement in the North. Urgent demands had been 
raised for the recall of McClellan, a course of which, 
Lincoln justly observed, no one could measure the incon- 
venience so well as he. 

Lee was now feeling his way, somewhat in the dark as 
to his enemy's movements, because he had despatched 
most of his cavalry upon raiding expeditions towards the 
important industrial centre of Harrisburg. Meade con- 
tinued on a parallel course to him, with his army spread 
out to guard against any movements of Lee's to the east- 
ward. Each commander would have preferred to fight 
the other upon the defensive. Suddenly on July i, three 
days after Meade had taken command, a chance collision 
took place north of the town of Gettysburg between the 
advance guards of the two armies. It developed into a 
general engagement, of which the result must partly de- 
pend on the speed with which each commander could 
bring up the remainder of his army. On the first day 
Lee achieved a decided success. The Northern troops 
were driven back upon steep heights just south of Gettys- 
burg, of which the contour made it difficult for the enemy 
to co-ordinate his movements in any attack on them. 
Here Meade, who when the battle began was ten miles 
away and did not expect it, was able by the morning of 
the 2nd or during that day to bring up his full force ; and 
here, contrary to his original choice of a position for 
bringing on a battle, he made his stand. The attack 
planned by Lee on the following day must, in his opinion, 
afterwards have been successful if " Stonewall " Jackson 
had been alive and with him. As it was, his most brilliant 
remaining subordinate, Longstreet, disapproved of any 



358 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

assault, and on this and the following day obeyed his 
orders reluctantly and too slowly. On July 3, 1863, Lee 
renewed his attack. In previous battles the Northern 
troops had been contending with invisible enemies in 
woods; now, after a heavy cannonade, the whole South- 
ern line could be seen advancing in the open to a desper- 
ate assault. This attack was crushed by the Northern 
fire. First and last in the fighting round Gettysburg the 
North lost 23,000 out of about 93,000 men, and the 
South about an equal number out of 78,000. The net 
result was that, after a day's delay, Lee felt compelled to 
retreat. Nothing but an actual victory would have made 
it wise for him to persist in his adventurous invasion. 

The importance of this, which has been remembered as 
the chief battle of the war, must be estimated rather by 
the peril from which the North was delivered than by the 
results it immediately reaped. Neither on July 3 nor 
during Lee's subsequent retreat did Meade follow up his 
advantage with the boldness to which Lincoln, in the 
midst of his congratulations, exhorted him. On July 12 
Lee recrossed the Potomac. Meade on the day before 
had thought of attacking him, but desisted on the advice 
of the majority in a council of war. That council of 
war, as Lincoln said, should never have been held. Its 
decision was demonstrably wrong, since it rested on the 
hope that Lee would himself attack. Lincoln writhed 
at a phrase in Meade's general orders about " driving the 
invader from our soil." " Will our generals," he ex- 
claimed in private, " never get that idea out of their 
heads? The whole country is our soil." Meade, how- 
ever, unlike McClellan, was only cautious, not lukewarm, 
nor without a mind of his own. The army opposed to 
him was much larger than that which McClellan failed 
to overwhelm after Antietam. He had offered to resign 
when he inferred Lincoln's dissatisfaction from a tele- 
gram. Lincoln refused this, and made it clear through 
another officer that his strong opinion as to what might 
have been done did not imply ingratitude or want of 
confidence towards " a brave and skilful officer, and a 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 359 

true man." Characteristically he relieved his sense of 
Meade's omissions in a letter of most lucid criticism, and 
characteristically he never sent it. Step by step Meade 
moved on Lee's track into the enemy's country. Inde- 
cisive manoeuvres on both sides continued over four 
months. Lee was forced over the Rappahannock, then 
over the Rapidan; Meade followed him, found his army 
in peril, and prudently and promptly withdrew. In 
December the two armies went into winter quarters on 
the two sides of the Rappahannock to await the opening 
of a very different campaign when the next spring was 
far advanced. 

The autumn months of 1863 witnessed in the Middle 
West a varying conflict ending in a Northern victory 
hardly less memorable than those of Gettysburg and 
Vicksburg. At last, after the fall of Vicksburg, Rose- 
crans in Middle Tennessee found himself ready to ad- 
vance. By skilful manoeuvres, in the difficult country 
where the Tennessee River cuts the Cumberland moun- 
tains and the parallel ranges which run from north-east 
to south-west behind, he turned the flank of Bragg's posi- 
tion at Chattanooga and compelled him to evacuate that 
town in the beginning of September. Bragg, as he re- 
treated, succeeded in getting false reports as to his move- 
ments and the condition of his army conveyed to Rose- 
crans, who accordingly followed him up in an incautious 
manner. By this time the bulk of the forces that had 
been used against Vicksburg should have been brought 
to support Rosecrans. Halleck, however, at first scat- 
tered them for purposes which he thought important in 
the West. After a while, however, one part of the army 
at Vicksburg was brought back to General Burnside in 
Ohio, from whom it had been borrowed. Burnside ac- 
complished the very advance by Lexington, in Kentucky, 
over the mountains into Eastern Tennessee, which Lin- 
coln had so long desired for the relief of the Unionists 
there, and he was able to hold his ground, defeating at 
Knoxville a little later an expedition under Longstreet 
which was sent to dislodge him. Other portions of the 



360 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Western army were at last ordered to join Rosecrans, 
but did not reach him before he had met with disaster. 
For the Confederate authorities, eager to retrieve their 
losses, sent every available reinforcement to Bragg, and 
he was shortly able to turn back towards Chattanooga 
with over 71,000 men against the 57,000 with which 
Rosecrans, scattering his troops in false security, was 
pursuing him. The two armies came upon one another, 
without clear expectation, upon the Chicamauga Creek 
beyond the ridge which lies south-east of Chattanooga. 
The battle fought among the woods and 'hills by Chica- 
mauga on September 19 and 20 surpassed any other in 
the war in the heaviness of the loss on each side. On 
the second day Bragg' s manoeuvres broke Rosecrans' line, 
and only an extraordinarily gallant stand by Thomas 
with a part of the line, in successive positions of retreat, 
prevented Bragg from turning the hasty retirement of 
the remainder into a disastrous rout. As it was, Rose- 
crans made good his retreat to Chattanooga, but there 
he was in danger of being completely cut off. A corps 
was promptly detached from Meade in Virginia, placed 
under Hooker, and sent to relieve him. Rosecrans, who 
in a situation of real difficulty seems to have hacl no re- 
sourcefulness, was replaced in his command by Thomas. 
Grant was appointed to supreme command of all the 
forces in the West and ordered to Chattanooga. There, 
after many intricate operations on either side, a great 
battle was eventually fought on November 24 and 25, 
1863. Grant had about 60,000 men; Bragg, who had 
detached Longstreet for his vain attack on Burnside, had 
only 33,000, but he had one steep and entrenched ridge 
behind another on which to stand. The fight was marked 
by notable incidents — Hooker's u battle above the 
clouds " ; and the impulse by which apparently with no 
word of command, Thomas' corps, tired of waiting 
while Sherman advanced upon the one flank and Hooker 
upon the other, arose and carried a ridge which the 
enemy and Grant himself had regarded as impregnable. 
It ended in a rout of the Confederates, which was ener- 



THE APPROACH Of VICTORY 361 

getically followed up. Bragg's army was broken and 
driven right back into Georgia. To sum up the events of 
the year, the one serious invasion of the North by the 
South had failed, and the dominion on which the Con- 
federacy had any real hold was now restricted to the 
Atlantic States, Alabama, and a part of the State of 
Mississippi. 

At this point, at which the issue of the war, if it were 
only pursued, could not be doubted, and at which, as it 
happens, the need of Lincoln's personal intervention in 
military matters became greatly diminished, we may try 
to obtain a general impression of his wisdom, or want of 
it, in such affairs. The closeness and keen intelligence 
with which he followed the war is undoubted, but could 
only be demonstrated by a lengthy accumulation of evi- 
dence. The larger strategy of the North, sound in the 
main, was of course the product of more than one co- 
operating mind, but as his was undoubtedly the dominant 
will of his Administration, so too it seems likely that, 
with his early and sustained grasp of the general prob- 
lem, he contributed not a little to the clearness and con- 
sistency of the strategical plans. The amount of the 
forces raised was for long, as we shall see later, beyond 
his control, and, in the distribution of what he had to the 
best effect, his own want of knowledge and the poor judg- 
ment of his earlier advisers seem to have caused some 
errors. He started with the evident desire to put him- 
self almost unreservedly in the hands of the competent 
military counsellors, and he was able in the end to do 
so ; but for a long intermediate period, as we have seen, 
he was compelled as a responsible statesman to forego this 
wish. It was all that time his function first to pick out, 
with very little to go by, the best officers he could find, 
replacing them with better when he could; and secondly 
to give them just so much direction, and no more, as his 
wisdom at a distance and their more expert skill upon 
the spot made proper. In each of these respects his 
occasional mistakes are plain enough, but the evidence, 
upon which he has often been thought capable of setting 



362 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

aside sound military considerations causelessly or in obe- 
dience to interested pressure, breaks down when the facts 
of any imputed instance are known. It is manifest that 
he gained rapidly both in knowledge of the men he dealt 
with and in the firm kindness with which he treated them. 
It is remarkable that, with his ever-burning desire to see 
vigour and ability displayed, he could watch so constantly 
as he did for the precise opportunity or the urgent neces- 
sity before he made changes in command. It is equally 
remarkable that, with his decided and often right views 
as to what should be done, his advice was always offered 
with equal deference and plainness. " Quite possibly I 
was wrong both then and now," he once wrote to Hooker, 
" but in the great responsibility resting upon me, I cannot 
be entirely silent. Now, all I ask is that you will be in 
such mood that we can get into action the best cordial 
judgment of yourself and General Halleck, with my poor 
mite added, if indeed he and you shall think it entitled 
to any consideration at all." The man whose habitual 
attitude was this, and who yet could upon the instant take 
his own decision, may be presumed to have been wise in 
many cases where we do not know his reasons. Few 
statesmen, perhaps, have so often stood waiting and re- 
frained themselves from a firm will and not from the 
want of it, and for the sake of the rare moment of action. 
The passing of the crisis in the war was fittingly com- 
memorated by a number of State Governors who com- 
bined to institute a National Cemetery upon the field of 
Gettysburg. It was dedicated on November 19, 1863. 
The speech of the occasion was delivered by Edward 
Everett, the accomplished man once already mentioned 
as the orator of highest repute in his day. The Presi- 
dent was bidden then to say a few words at the close. 
The oration with which for two hours Everett delighted 
his vast audience charms no longer, though it is full of 
graceful sentiment and contains a very reasonable survey 
of the rights and wrongs involved in the war, and of its 
progress till then. The few words of Abraham Lincoln 
were such as perhaps sank deep, but left his audience 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 363 

unaware that a classic had been spoken which would en- 
dure with the English language. The most literary man 
present was also Lincoln's greatest admirer, young John 
Hay. To him it seemed that Mr. Everett spoke per- 
fectly, and " the old man " gracefully for him. These 
were the few words : " Four score and seven years ago 
our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, 
conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that 
all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a 
great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation 
so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are 
met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come 
to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place 
for those who here gave their lives that that nation might 
live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should 
do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we 
cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The 
brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have con- 
secrated it far above our poor power to add or to de- 
tract. The world will little note nor long remember 
what we say here, but it can never forget what they did 
here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here 
to the unfinished work which they who fought here have 
thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be 
here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — 
that from these honoured dead we take increased devo- 
tion to that cause for which they gave the last full meas- 
ure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these 
dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, 
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that 
government of the people, by the people, for the people* 
shall not perish from the earth." 

2. Conscription and the Politics of 1863. 

The events of our day may tempt us to underestimate 
the magnitude of the American Civil War, not only in 
respect of its issues, but in respect of the efforts that were 
put forth. Impartial historians declare that " no pre- 



364 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

vious war had ever in the same time entailed upon the 
combatants such enormous sacrifices of life and wealth. " 
Even such battles as Malplaquet had not rivalled in 
carnage the battles of this war, and in the space of these 
four years there took place a number of engagements — 
far more than can be recounted here — in many of which, 
as at Gettysburg, the casualties amounted to a quarter 
of the whole forces engaged. The Southern armies, 
especially towards the end of the war, were continually 
being pitted against vastly superior numbers; the North- 
ern armies, whether we look at the whole war as one 
vast enterprise of conquest or at almost any important 
battle save that of Gettysburg, were as continually con- 
fronted with great obstacles in the matter of locality and 
position. In this case, of a new and not much organised 
country unprepared for war, exact or intelligible figures 
as to losses or as to the forces raised must not be ex- 
pected, but, according to what seems to be a fair esti- 
mate, the total deaths on the Northern and the Southern 
side directly due to the war stood to the population of 
the whole country at its beginning as at least I to 32. Of 
these deaths about half occurred on the Northern and 
half on the Southern side; this, however, implies that in 
proportion to its population the South lost twice as heav- 
ily as the North. 

Neither side obtained the levies of men that it needed 
without resort to compulsion. The South, in which this 
necessity either arose more quickly or was seen more 
readily, had called up before the end of the war its whole 
available manhood. In the North the proportion of 
effort and sacrifice required was obviously less, and, at 
least at one critical moment, it was disastrously under- 
estimated. A system of compulsion, to be used in default 
of volunteering, was brought into effect half-way through 
the war. Under this system there were in arms at the 
end of the war 980,000 white Northern soldiers, who 
probably stood to the population at that time in as high 
a proportion as 1 to 25, and everything was in readiness 
for calling up a vastly greater number if necessary. After 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 365 

twenty months of war, when the purely voluntary system 
still existed but was proving itself inadequate to make 
good the wastage of the armies, the number in arms for 
the North was 860,717, perhaps as much as 1 in 27 of 
the population then. It would be useless to evade the 
question which at once suggests itself, whether the results 
of voluntary enlistment in this country during the present 
war have surpassed to the extent to which they undoubt- 
edly ought to have surpassed the standard set by the 
North in the Civil War. For these two cases furnish the 
only instances in which the institution of voluntary enlist- 
ment has been submitted to a severe test by Governments 
reluctant to abandon it. The two cases are of course not 
strictly comparable. Our own country in this matter had 
the advantages of riper organisation, political and social, 
and of the preparatory education given it by the Terri- 
torials and by Lord Roberts. The extremity of the need 
was in our case immediately apparent; and the cause at 
issue appealed with the utmost simplicity and intensity 
to every brave and to every gentle nature. In the North- 
ern States, on the other hand, apart from all other con- 
siderations, there were certain to be sections, local, racial, 
and political, upon which the national cause could take 
no very firm hold. That this was so proves no unusual 
prevalence of selfishness or of stupidity; and the apathy 
of such sections of the people, like that of smaller sec- 
tions in our own case, sets in a brighter light the devo- 
tion which made so many eager to give their all. More- 
over, the general patriotism of the Northern people is 
not to be judged by the failure of the purely voluntary 
system, but rather, as will be seen later, by the success 
of the system which succeeded it. There is in our case 
no official statement of the exact number serving on any 
particular day, but the facts which are published make it 
safe to conclude that, at the end of fifteen months of war, 
when no compulsion was in force, the soldiers then in 
service and drawn from the United Kingdom alone 
amounted to 1 in 17 of the population. The population 
in this case is one of which a smaller proportion are of 



366 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

military age than was the case in the Northern States, 
with their great number of immigrants. The apparent 
effect of these figures would be a good deal heightened 
if it were possible to make a correct addition in the case 
of each country for the numbers killed or disabled in 
war up to the dates in question and for the numbers serv- 
ing afloat. Moreover, the North, when it was driven to 
abandon the purely voluntary system, had not reached 
the point at which the withdrawal of men from civil oc- 
cupations could have been regarded among the people 
as itself a national danger, or at which the Government 
was compelled to deter some classes from enlisting; new 
industries unconnected with the war were all the while 
springing up, and the production and export of foodstuffs 
were increasing rapidly. For the reasons which have 
been stated, there is nothing invidious in thus answering 
an unavoidable question. Judged by any previous stand- 
ard of voluntary national effort, the North answered the 
test well. Each of our related peoples must look upon 
the rally of its fathers and grandfathers in the one case, 
its brothers and sons in the other, with mingled feelings 
in which pride predominates, the most legitimate source 
of pride in our case being the unity of the Empire. To 
each the question must present itself whether the nations, 
democratic and otherwise, which have followed from the 
first, or, like the South, have rapidly adopted a different 
principle, have not, in this respect, a juster cause of 
pride. In some of these countries, by common and al- 
most unquestioning consent, generation after generation 
of youths and men in their prime have held themselves 
at the instant disposal of their country if need should 
arise; and, in the absence of need and the absence of ex- 
citement, have contentedly borne the appreciable sacri- 
fice of training. With this it is surely necessary to join 
a further question, whether the compulsion which, under 
conscription, the public imposes on individuals is com- 
parable in its harshness to the sacrifice and the conflict 
of duties imposed by the voluntary system upon the best 
people in all classes as such. 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 367 

From the manner in which the war arose it will easily 
be understood that the South was quicker than the North 
in shaping its policy for raising armies. Before a shot 
had been fired at Fort Sumter, and when only seven of 
the ten Southern States had yet seceded, President Jeffer- 
son Davis had at his command more than double the 
number of the United States Army as it then was. He 
had already lawful authority to raise that number to 
nearly three times as many. And, though there was pro- 
test in some States, and some friction between the Con- 
federate War Department and the State militias, on the 
whole the seceding States, in theory jealous of their 
rights, submitted very readily in questions of defence to 
the Confederacy. 

It is not clear how far the Southern people displayed 
their warlike temper by a sustained flow of voluntary 
enlistment; but their Congress showed the utmost 
promptitude in granting every necessary power to their 
President, and on April 16, 1862, a sweeping measure 
of compulsory service was passed. The President of the 
Confederacy could call into the service any white resident 
in the South between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, 
with certain statutory exemptions. There was, of course, 
trouble about the difficult question of exemptions, and 
under conflicting pressure the Confederate Congress made 
and unmade various laws about them. After a time all 
statutory exemptions were done away, and it was left en- 
tirely in the discretion of the Southern President to say 
what men were required in various departments of civil 
life. The liability to serve was extended in September, 
1862, to all between eighteen and forty-five, and finally 
in February, 1864, to all between seventeen and fifty. 
The rigorous conscription which necessity required could 
not be worked without much complaint. There was a 
party disposed to regard the law as unconstitutional. 
The existence of sovereign States within the Confederacy 
was very likely an obstacle to the local and largely volun- 
tary organisation for deciding claims which can exist in 
a unified country. A Government so hard driven must, 



368 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

even if liberally minded, have enforced the law with 
much actual hardship. A belief in the ruthlessness of 
the Southern conscription penetrated to the North. It 
was probably exaggerated from the temptation to sup- 
pose that secession was the work of a tyranny and not 
of the Southern people. Desertion and failure of the 
Conscription Law became common in the course of 1864, 
but this would seem to have been due not so much to re- 
sentment at the system as to the actual loss of a large 
part of the South, and the spread of a perception that the 
war was now hopelessly lost. In the last extremities of 
the Confederate Government the power of compulsion of 
course completely broke down. But, upon the surface at 
least, it seems plain that what has been called the military 
despotism of Jefferson Davis rested upon the determina- 
tion rather than upon the submissiveness of the people. 
In the North, where there was double the population 
to draw upon, the need for compulsion was not likely to 
be felt as soon. The various influences which would 
later depress enlistment had hardly begun to assert them- 
selves, when the Government, as if to aggravate them 
in advance, committed a blunder which has never been 
surpassed in its own line. On April 3, 1862, recruiting 
was stopped dead; the central recruiting office at Wash- 
ington was closed and its staff dispersed. Many writers 
agree in charging this error against Stanton. He must 
have been the prime author of it, but this does not exon- 
erate Lincoln. It was no departmental matter, but a 
matter of supreme policy. Lincoln's knowledge of 
human nature and his appreciation of the larger bearings 
of every question might have been expected to set Stanton 
right, unless, indeed, the thing was done suddenly be- 
hind his back. In any case, this must be added to the 
indications seen in an earlier chapter, that Lincoln's calm 
strength and sure judgment had at that time not yet 
reached their full development. As for Stanton, a man 
of much narrower mind, but acute, devoted, and morally 
fearless, kept in the War Department as a sort of tame 
tiger to prey on abuses, negligences, pretensions, and 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 369 

political influences, this was one among a hundred smaller 
erratic doings, which his critics have never thought of 
as outweighing his peculiar usefulness. His departmental 
point of view can easily be understood. Recruits, em- 
barrassingly, presented themselves much faster than they 
could be organised or equipped, and an overdriven office 
did not pause to think out some scheme of enlistment for 
deferred service. Waste had been terrific, and Stanton 
did not dislike a petty economy which might shock people 
in Washington. McClellan clamoured for more men — 
let him do something with what he had got; Stanton, in- 
deed, very readily became sanguine that McClellan, once 
in motion, would crush the Confederacy. Events con- 
spired to make the mistake disastrous. In these very 
days the Confederacy was about to pass its own Con- 
scription Act. McClellan, instead of pressing on to 
Richmond, sat down before Yorktown and let the Con- 
federate conscripts come up. Halleck was crawling south- 
ward, when a rapid advance might have robbed the South 
of a large recruiting area. The reopening of enlistment 
came on the top of the huge disappointment at Mc- 
Clelland failure in the peninsula. There was a credit- 
able response to the call which was then made for volun- 
teers. But the disappointment of the war continued 
throughout 1862; the second Bull Run; the inconclusive 
sequel to Antietam; Fredericksburg; and, side by side 
with these events, the long-drawn failure of Buell's and 
Rosecrans' operations. The spirit of voluntary service 
seems to have revived vigorously enough wherever and 
whenever the danger of Southern invasion became press- 
ing, but under this protracted depressing influence it no 
longer rose to the task of subduing the South. It must 
be added that wages in civil employment were very high. 
Lincoln, it is evident, felt this apparent failure of patriot- 
ism sadly, but in calm retrospect it cannot seem sur- 
prising. 

In the latter part of 1862 attempts were made to use 
the powers of compulsion which the several States pos- 
sessed, under the antiquated laws as to militia which ex- 



37o ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

isted in all of them, in order to supplement recruiting. 
The number of men raised for short periods in this way 
is so small that the description of the Northern armies 
at this time as purely volunteer armies hardly needs qual- 
ification. It would probably be worth no one's while to 
investigate the makeshift system with which the Govern- 
ment, very properly, then tried to help itself out; for it 
speedily and completely failed. The Conscription Act, 
which became law on March 3, 1863, set up for the first 
time an organisation for recruiting which covered the 
whole country but was under the complete control of the 
Federal Government. It was placed under an officer of 
great ability, General J. B. Fry, formerly chief of staff 
to Buell, and now entitled Provost-Marshal-General. 
It was his business, through provost-marshals in a num- 
ber of districts, each divisible into sub-districts as con- 
venience might require, to enroll all male citizens between 
twenty and forty-five. He was to assign a quota, in other 
words a stated proportion of the number of troops for 
which the Government might at any time call, to each 
district, having regard to the number of previous enlist- 
ments from each district. The management of voluntary 
enlistment was placed in his hands, in order that the two 
methods of recruiting might be worked in harmony. The 
system as a whole was quite distinct from any such sys- 
tem of universal service as might have been set up be- 
forehand in time of peace. Compulsion only came into 
force in default of sufficient volunteers from any district 
to provide its required number of the troops wanted. 
When it came into force the " drafts " of conscripts were 
chosen by lot from among those enrolled as liable for 
service. But there was a way of escape from actual 
service. It seems, from what Lincoln wrote, to have 
been looked upon as a time-honoured principle, estab- 
lished by precedent in all countries, that the man on 
whom the lot fell might provide a substitute if he could. 
The market price of a substitute (a commodity for the 
provision of which a class of u substitute brokers " came 
into being) proved to be about 1,000 dollars. Business 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 371 

or professional men, who felt they could not be spared 
from home but wished to act patriotically, did buy sub- 
stitutes ; but they need not have done so, for the law con- 
tained a provision intended, as Lincoln recorded, to safe- 
guard poorer men against such a rise in prices. They 
could escape by paying 300 dollars, or £60, not, in the 
then state of wages, an extravagant penalty upon an abl*- 
bodied man. The sums paid under this provision cov- 
ered the cost of the recruiting business. 

Most emphatically the Conscription Law operated 
mainly as a stimulus to voluntary enlistment. The vol- 
unteer received, as the conscript did not, a bounty from 
the Government; States, counties, and smaller localities, 
when once a quota was assigned to them, vied with one 
another in filling their quota with volunteers, and for that 
purpose added to the Government bounty. It goes with- 
out saying that in a new country, with its scattered coun- 
try population and its disorganised great new towns, there 
were plenty of abuses. Substitute brokers provided the 
wrong article; ingenious rascals invented the trade of 
" bounty-jumping, " and would enlist for a bounty, desert, 
enlist for another bounty, and so on indefinitely; and the 
number of men enrolled who were afterwards unac- 
counted for was large. There was of course also grum- 
bling of localities at the quotas assigned to them, though 
no pains were spared to assign them fairly. There was 
some opposition to the working of the law after it was 
passed, but it was, not general, but partly the opposition 
of rowdies in degraded neighbourhoods, partly factitious 
political opposition, and partly seditious and openly 
friendly to the South. In general the country accepted 
the law as a manifest military necessity. The spirit and 
manner of its acceptance may be judged from the results 
of any of the calls for troops under this law. For exam- 
ple, in December, 1864, towards the end of the war, 
211,752 men were brought up to the colours; of these it 
seems that 194,715 were ordinary volunteers, 10,192 
were substitutes provided by conscripts, and only 6,845 
were actually compelled men. It is perhaps more signifi- 



372 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

cant still that among those who did not serve there were 
only 460 who paid the 300-dollar penalty, as against the 
10,192 who must have paid at least three times that sum 
for substitutes. Behind the men who had been called up 
by the end of the war the North had, enrolled and ready 
to be called, over two million men. The North had not 
to suffer as the South suffered, but unquestionably in this 
matter it rose to the occasion. 

The constitutional validity of the law was much ques- 
tioned by politicians, but never finally tried out on appeal 
to the Supreme Court. There seems to be no room for 
doubt that Lincoln's own reasoning on this matter was 
sound. The Constitution simply gave to Congress 
" power to raise and support armies," without a word 
as to the particular means to be used for the purpose; 
the new and extremely well-considered Constitution of 
the Confederacy was in this respect the same. The Con- 
stitution, argued Lincoln, would not have given the power 
of raising armies without one word as to the mode in 
which it was to be exercised, if it had not meant Con- 
gress to be the sole judge as to the mode. " The princi- 
ple," he wrote, " of the draft, which simply is involuntary 
or enforced service, is not new. It has been prac- 
tised in all ages of the world. It was well known to the 
framers of our Constitution as one of the modes of rais- 
ing armies. ... It had been used just before, in 
establishing our independence, and it was also used under 
the Constitution in 1812." In fact, as we have seen, a 
certain power of compelling military service existed in 
each of the States and had existed in them from the first. 
Their ancestors had brought the principle with them from 
the old country, in which the system of the " militia 
ballot " had not fallen into desuetude when they became 
independent. The traditional English jealousy, which 
the American Colonies had imbibed, against the military 
power of the Crown had never manifested itself in any 
objection to the means which might be taken to raise 
soldiers, but in establishing a strict control of the number 
which the Crown could at any moment maintain; and 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 373 

this control had long been in England and had always 
been in America completely effective. We may there- 
fore treat the protest which was raised against the law as 
unconstitutional, and the companion argument that 
it tended towards military despotism, as having be- 
longed to the realm of political verbiage, and as neither 
founded in reason nor addressed to living popular 
emotions. 

This is the way in which the Northern people, of whom 
a large part were, it must be remembered, Democrats, 
seem to have regarded these contentions, and a real 
sense, apart from these contentions, that conscription 
was unnecessary or produced avoidable hardship seems 
scarcely to have existed. It was probably for this reason 
that Lincoln never published the address to the people, 
or perhaps more particularly to the Democratic opposi- 
tion, to which several references have already been made. 
In the course of it he said : u At the beginning of the war, 
and ever since, a variety of motives, pressing, some in 
one direction and some in the other, would be presented 
to the mind of each man physically fit to be a soldier, 
upon the combined effect of which motives he would, 
or would not, voluntarily enter the service. Among these 
motives would be patriotism, political bias, ambition, per- 
sonal courage, love of adventure, want of employment, 
and convenience, or the opposite of some of these. We 
already have and have had in the service, as it appears, 
substantially all that can be obtained upon this voluntary 
weighing of motives. And yet we must somehow obtain 
more or relinquish the original object of the contest, to- 
gether with all the blood and treasure already expended 
in the effort to secure it. To meet this necessity the law 
for the draft has been enacted. You who do not wish to 
be soldiers do not like this law. This is natural; nor does 
it imply want of patriotism. Nothing can be so just and 
necessary as to make us like it if it is disagreeable to us. 
We are prone, too, to find false arguments with which to 
excuse ourselves for opposing such disagreeable things. " 
He proceeded to meet some of these arguments upon the 



374 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

lines which have already been indicated. After speaking 
of the precedents for conscription in America, he con- 
tinued: "Wherein is the peculiar hardship now? Shall 
we shrink from the necessary means to maintain our free 
government, which our grandfathers employed to estab- 
lish it and our fathers have already once employed to 
maintain it? Are we degenerate? Has the manhood of 
our race run out?" Unfair administration was appre- 
hended. " This law," he said, " belongs to a class, which 
class is composed of those laws whose object is to dis- 
tribute burthens or benefits on the principle of equality. 
No one of these laws can ever be practically administered 
with that exactness which can be conceived of in the mind. 
A tax law . . . will be a dead letter if no one will 
be compelled to pay until it can be shown that every other 
one will be compelled to pay in precisely the same pro- 
portion according to value; nay, even it will be a dead 
letter if no one can be compelled to pay until it is certain 
that every other one will pay at all. . . . This sort 
of difficulty applies in full force to the practical admin- 
istration of the draft law. In fact, the difficulty is greater 
in the case of the draft law " ; and he proceeded to state 
the difficulties. "In all these points," he continued, 
" errors will occur in spite of the utmost fidelity. The 
Government is bound to administer the law with such an 
approach to exactness as is usual in analogous cases, and 
as entire good faith and fidelity will reach." Errors, 
capable of correction, should, he promised, be corrected 
when pointed out; but he concluded: " With these views 
and on these principles, I feel bound to tell you it is my 
purpose to see the draft law faithfully executed." It 
was his way, as has been seen, sometimes to set his 
thoughts very plainly on paper and to consider after- 
wards the wisdom of publishing them. This paper never 
saw the light till after his death. It is said that some 
scruple as to the custom in his office restrained him from 
sending it out, but this scruple probably weighed with 
him the more because he saw that the sincere people 
whom he had thought of addressing needed no such ap- 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 375 

peal. It was surely a wise man who, writing so wisely, 
could see the greater wisdom of silence. 

The opposition to the Conscription Law may be 
treated simply as one element in the propaganda of the 
official Opposition to the Administration. The opposi- 
tion to such a measure which we might possibly have ex- 
pected to arise from churches, or from schools of thought 
independent of the ordinary parties, does not seem, as a 
matter of fact, to have arisen. The Democratic party 
had, as we have seen, revived in force in the latter part 
of 1862. Persons, ambitious, from whatever mixture of 
motives, of figuring as leaders of opposition during a war 
which they did not condemn, found a public to which to 
appeal, mainly because the war was not going well. They 
found a principle of opposition satisfactory to themselves 
in condemning the Proclamation of Emancipation. (It 
was significant that McClellan shortly after the Procla- 
mation issued a General Order enjoining obedience to 
the Government and adding the hint that " the remedy 
for political errors, if any are committed, is to be found 
only in the action of the people at the polls.") In the 
curious creed which respectable men, with whom alle- 
giance to an ancient party could be a powerful motive at 
such a time, were driven to construct for themselves, en- 
forcement of the duty to defend the country and libera- 
tion of the enemy's slaves appeared as twin offences 
against the sacred principles of constitutional freedom. 
It would have been monstrous to say that most of the 
Democrats were opposed to the war. Though a consid- 
erable number had always disliked it and now found 
courage to speak loudly, the bulk were as loyal to the 
Union as those very strong Republicans like Greeley, 
who later on despaired of maintaining it. But there were 
naturally Democrats for whom a chance now appeared 
in politics, and who possessed that common type of polit- 
ical mind that meditates deeply on minor issues and is in- 
flamed by zeal against minor evils. Such men began to 
debate with their consciences whether the wicked Gov- 
ernment might not become more odious than the enemy. 



376 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

There arose, too, as there often arises in war time, a 
fraternal feeling between men who hated the war and 
men who reflected how much better they could have 
waged it themselves. 

There was, of course, much in the conduct of the Gov- 
ernment which called for criticism, and on that account it 
was a grievous pity that independence should have stulti- 
fied itself by reviving in any form the root principle of 
party government, and recognising as the best critics of 
the Administration men who desired to take its place. 
More useful censure of the Government at that time 
might have come from men who, if they had axes to 
grind, would have publicly thrown them away. There 
were two points which especially called for criticism, 
apart from military administration, upon which, as it hap- 
pened, Lincoln knew more than his critics knew and more 
than he could say. One of these points was extravagance 
and corruption in the matter of army contracts and the 
like; these evils were dangerously prevalent, but mem- 
bers of the Cabinet were as anxious to prevent them as 
any outside critic could be, and it was friendly help, not 
censure, that was required. The other point was the 
exercise of martial law, a difficult question, upon which 
a word must here be said, but upon which only those could 
usefully have spoken out whose general support of the 
Government was pronounced and sincere. 

In almost every rebellion or civil war statesmen and 
the military officers under them are confronted with the 
need, for the sake of the public safety or even of ordinary 
justice, of rules and procedure which the law in peace 
time would abhor. In great conflicts, such as our own 
wars after the French Revolution and the American Civil 
War, statesmen such as Pitt and Lincoln, capable of 
handling such a problem well, have had their hands full 
of yet more urgent matters. The puzzling part of the 
problem does not lie in the neighbourhood of the actual 
fighting, where for the moment there can be no law but 
the will of the commander, but in the districts more dis 
tantly affected, or in the period when the war is smoulder- 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 377 

ing out. Lincoln's Government had at first to guard it- 
self against dangerous plots which could be scented but 
not proved in Washington ; later on it had to answer such 
questions as this : What should be done when a suspected 
agent of the enemy is vaguely seen to be working against 
enlistment, when an attack by the civil mob upon the re- 
cruits is likely to result, and when the local magistrate 
and police are not much to be trusted? There is no 
doubt that Seward at the beginning, and Stanton persist- 
ently, and zealous local commanders now and then solved 
such problems in a very hasty fashion, or that Lincoln 
throughout was far more anxious to stand by vigorous 
agents of the Government than to correct them. 

Lincoln claimed that as Commander-in-Chief he had 
during the continuance of civil war a lawful authority 
over the lives and liberties of all citizens, whether loyal 
or otherwise, such as any military commander exercises 
in hostile country occupied by his troops. He held that 
there was no proper legal remedy for persons injured 
under this authority except by impeachment of himself. 
He held, further, that this authority extended to every 
place to which the action of the enemy in any form ex- 
tended — that is, to the whole country. This he took to 
be the doctrine of English Common Law, and he con- 
tended that the Constitution left this doctrine in full 
force. Whatever may be said as to his view of the 
Common Law doctrine, his construction of the Consti- 
tution would now be held by every one to have been 
wrong. Plainly read, the Constitution swept away the 
whole of that somewhat undefined doctrine of martial 
law which may be found in some decisions of our Courts, 
and it did much more. Every Legislature in the British 
Empire can, subject to the veto of the Crown, enact 
whatever exceptional measures of public safety it thinks 
necessary in an emergency. The Constitution restricted 
this legislative power within the very narrowest limits. 
There is, moreover, a recognised British practice, ini- 
tiated by Wellington and Castlereagh, by which all ques- 
tion as to the authority of martial law is avoided; a 



378 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

governor or commander during great public peril is en- 
couraged to consider what is right and necessary, not 
what is lawful, knowing that if necessary there will be 
enquiry into his conduct afterwards, but knowing also 
that, unless he acts quite unconscionably, he and his agents 
will be protected by an Act of Indemnity from the legal 
consequences of whatever they have done in good faith. 
The American Constitution would seem to render any 
such Act of Indemnity impossible. In a strictly legal 
sense, therefore, the power which Lincoln exercised must 
be said to have been usurped. The arguments by which 
he defended his own legality read now as good argu- 
ments on what the law should have been, but bad argu- 
ments on what the law was. He did not, perhaps, attach 
extreme importance to this legal contention, for he de- 
clared plainly that he was ready to break the law in minor 
matters rather than let the whole fabric of law go to 
ruin. This, however, does not prove that he was insin- 
cere when he pleaded legal as well as moral justification ; 
he probably regarded the Constitution in a manner which 
modern lawyers find it difficult to realise; he probably 
applied in construing it a principle such as Hamilton laid 
down for the construction of statutes, that it was u qual- 
ified and controlled " by the Common Law and by con- 
siderations of " convenience " and of " reason " and of 
the policy which its framers, as wise and honest men, 
would have followed in present circumstances; he prob- 
ably would have adapted to the occasion Hamilton's 
position that " construction may be made against the 
letter of the statute to render it agreeable to natural 
justice. " 

In the exercise of his supposed prerogative Lincoln 
sanctioned from beginning to end of the war the arrest 
of many suspected dangerous persons under what may 
be called " letters de cachet " from Seward and after- 
wards from Stanton. He publicly professed in 1863 his 
regret that he had not caused this to be done in cases* 
such as those of Lee and Joseph Johnston, where it had 
not been done. When agitation arose on the matter in 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 379 

the end of 1862 many political prisoners were, no doubt 
wisely, released. Congress then proceeded, in 1863, to 
exercise such powers in the matter as the Constitution 
gave it by an Act suspending, where the President thought 
fit, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. A decision 
of the Supreme Court, delivered curiously enough by 
Lincoln's old friend David Davis, showed that the real 
effect of this Act, so far as valid under the Constitution, 
was ridiculously small (see Ex parte Milligan, 4 Russell, 
2). In any case the Act was hedged about with many 
precautions. These were entirely disregarded by the 
Government, which proceeded avowedly upon Lincoln's 
theory of martial law. The whole country was eventually 
proclaimed to be under martial law, and many persons 
were at the orders of the local military commander tried 
and punished by court-martial for offences, such as the 
discouragement of enlistment or the encouragement of 
desertion, which might not have been punishable by the 
ordinary law, or of which the ordinary Courts might not 
have convicted them. This fresh outbreak of martial 
law must in large part be ascribed to Lincoln's determina- 
tion that the Conscription Act should not be frustrated; 
but apart from offences relating to enlistment there was 
from 1863 onwards no lack of seditious plots fomented 
by the agents of the Confederacy in Canada, and there 
were several secret societies, " knights " of this, that, or 
the other. Lincoln, it is true, scoffed at these, but very 
often the general on the spot thought seriously of them, 
and the extreme Democratic leader, Vallandigham, 
boasted that there were half a million men in the North 
enrolled in such seditious organisations. Drastic as the 
Government proceedings were, the opposition to them 
died down before the popular conviction that strong 
measures were necessary, and the popular appreciation 
that the blood-thirsty despot " King Abraham I.," as some 
Democrats were pleased to call him, was not of the stuff 
of which despots were made and was among the least 
blood-thirsty men living. The civil Courts made no at* 
tempt to interfere ; they said that, whatever the law, they 



380 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

could not in fact resist generals commanding armies. 
British Courts would in many cases have declined to in- 
terfere, not on the ground that the general had the might, 
but on the ground that he had the right; yet, it seems, 
they would not quite have relinquished their hold on the 
matter, but would have held themselves free to consider 
whether the district in which martial law was exercised 
was materially affected by the state of war or not. The 
legal controversy ended in a manner hardly edifying to 
the layman; in the course of 1865 the Supreme Court 
solemnly tried out the question of the right of one Milli- 
gan to a writ of habeas corpus. At that time the war, the 
only ground on which the right could have been refused 
him, had for some months been ended; and nobody in 
court knew or cared whether Milligan was then living to 
enjoy his right or had been shot long before. 

Save in a few cases of special public interest, Lincoln 
took no personal part in the actual administration of these 
coercive measures. So great a tax was put upon his time, 
and indeed his strength, by the personal consideration of 
cases of discipline in the army, that he could not possibly 
have undertaken a further labour of the sort. More- 
over, he thought it more necessary for the public good to 
give steady support to his ministers and generals than to 
check their action in detail. He contended that no great 
injustice was likely to arise. Very likely he was wrong; 
not only Democrats, but men like Senator John Sherman, 
a strong and sensible Republican, thought him wrong. 
There are evil stories about the secret police under Stan- 
ton, and some records of the proceedings of the courts- 
martial, composed sometimes of the officers least useful 
at the front, are not creditable. Very likely, as John 
Sherman thought, the ordinary law would have met the 
needs of the case in many districts. The mere number 
of the political prisoners, who counted by thousands, 
proves nothing, for the least consideration of the circum- 
stances will show that the active supporters of the Con- 
federacy in the North must have been very numerous. 
Nor does it matter much that, to the horror of some 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 381 

people, there were persons of station, culture, and re- 
spectability among the sufferers; persons of this kind 
were not likely to be exposed to charges of disloyal con- 
duct if they were actively loyal. Obscure and ignorant 
men are much more likely to have become the innocent 
victims of spiteful accusers or vile agents of police. 
Doubtless this might happen; but that does not of itself 
condemn Lincoln for having maintained an extreme form 
of martial law. The particular kind of oppression that 
is likely to have occurred is one against which the normal 
procedure of justice and police in America is said to-day 
to provide no sufficient safeguard. It is almost certain 
that the regular course of law would have exposed the 
public weal to formidable dangers; but it by no means 
follows that it would have saved individuals from wrong. 
The risk that many individuals would be grievously 
wronged was at least not very great. The Government 
was not pursuing men for erroneous opinions, but for 
certain very definite kinds of action dangerous to the 
State. These were indeed kinds of action with which 
Lincoln thought ordinary Courts of justice " utterly in- 
competent " to deal, and he avowed that he aimed rather 
at preventing intended actions than at punishing them 
when done. To some minds this will seem to be an atti- 
tude dangerous to liberty, but he was surely justified 
when he said, " In such cases the purposes of men are 
much more easily understood than in cases of ordinary 
crime. The man who stands by and says nothing when 
the peril of his Government is discussed cannot be mis- 
understood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the 
enemy, much more if he talks ambiguously — talks for his 
country with ' buts ' and ' ifs ' and * ands.' " In any case, 
Lincoln stood clearly and boldly for repressing speech or 
act, that could help the enemy, with extreme vigour and 
total disregard for the legalities of peace time. A little 
later on we shall see fully whether this imported on his 
part any touch whatever of the ferocity which it may 
seem to suggest. 

The Democratic opposition which made some headway 



382 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

in the first half of 1863 comprised a more extreme op- 
position prevailing in the West and led by Clement Val- 
landigham, a Congressman from Ohio, and a milder 
opposition led by Horatio Seymour, who from the end of 
1862 to the end of 1864, when he failed of re-election, 
was Governor of New York State. The extreme section 
were often called " Copperheads," after a venomous 
snake of that name. Strictly, perhaps, this political term 
should be limited to the few who went so far as to desire 
the victory of the South; more loosely it was applied to 
a far larger number who went no further than to say that 
the war should be stopped. This demand, it must be 
observed, was based upon the change of policy shown in 
the Proclamation of Emancipation. " The war for the 
Union," said Vallandigham in Congress in January, 1863, 
" is in your hands a most bloody and costly failure. War 
for the Union was abandoned; war for the negro openly 
begun. With what success? Let the dead at Fredericks- 
burg answer. — Ought this war to continue? I answer 
no — not a day, not an hour. What then ? Shall we sep- 
arate? Again I answer, no, no, no. — Stop fighting. 
Make an armistice. Accept at once friendly foreign 
mediation." And further: "The secret but real pur- 
pose of the war was to abolish slavery in the States, and 
with it the change of our present democratical form of 
government into an imperial despotism." This was in no 
sense treason; it was merely humbug. The alleged de- 
sign to establish despotism, chiefly revealed at that mo- 
ment by the liberation of slaves, had of course no exist- 
ence. Equally false, as will be seen later, was the whole 
suggestion that any peace could have been had with the 
South except on the terms of separation. Vallandigham, 
a demagogue of real vigour, had perhaps so much hon- 
esty as is compatible with self-deception; at any rate, 
upon his subsequent visit to the South his intercourse with 
Southern leaders was conducted on the footing that the 
Union should be restored. But his character inspired no 
respect. Burnside, now commanding the troops in Ohio, 
held that violent denunciation of the Government in a 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 383 

tone that tended to demoralise the troops was treason, 
since it certainly was not patriotism, and when in May, 
1863, Vallandigham made a very violent and offensive 
speech in Ohio he had him arrested in his house at night, 
and sent him before a court-martial which imprisoned 
him. Loud protest was raised by every Democrat. This 
worry came upon Lincoln just after Chancellorsville. He 
regretted Burnside's action— later on he had to reverse 
the rash suppression of a newspaper by which Burnside 
provoked violent indignation — but on this occasion he 
would only say in public that he " regretted the necessity " 
of such action. Evidently he thought it his duty to sup- 
port a well-intentioned general against a dangerous agita- 
tor. The course which after some consideration he took 
was of the nature of a practical joke, perhaps justified by 
its success. Vallandigham was indeed released; he was 
taken to the front and handed over to the Confederates 
as if he had been an exchanged prisoner of war. In reply 
to demands from the Democratic organisation in 
Ohio that Vallandigham might be allowed to return home, 
Lincoln offered to consent if their leaders would sign a 
pledge to support the war and promote the efficiency of 
the army. This they called an evasion. Vallandigham 
made his way to Canada and conducted intrigues from 
thence. In his absence he was put up for the governor- 
ship of Ohio in November, but defeated by a huge ma- 
jority, doubtless the larger because of Gettysburg and 
Vicksburg. The next year he suddenly returned home, 
braving the chance of arrest, and, probably to his dis- 
appointment, Lincoln let him be. In reply to protests 
against Vallandigham's arrest which had been sent by 
meetings in Ohio and New York, Lincoln had written 
clear defences of his action, from which the foregoing 
account of his views on martial law has been taken. In 
one of them was a sentence which probably went further 
with the people of the North than any other: " Must I 
shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I 
must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him 
to desert?" There may or may not be some fallacy 



384 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

lurking here, but it must not be supposed that this sen- 
tence came from a pleader's ingenuity. It was the ex- 
pression of a man really agonised by his weekly task of 
confirming sentences on deserters from the army. 

Governor Seymour was a more presentable antagonist 
than Vallandigham. He did not propose to stop the 
war. On the contrary, his case was that the war could 
only be effectively carried on by a law-abiding Govern- 
ment, which would unite the people by maintaining the 
Constitution, not, as the Radicals argued, by the flagitious 
policy of freeing the slaves. It should be added that he 
was really concerned at the corruption which was becom- 
ing rife, for which war contracts gave some scope, and 
which, with a critic's obliviousness to the limitations of 
human force, he thought the most heavily-burdened Ad- 
ministration of its time could easily have put down. With 
a little imagination it is easy to understand the difficult 
position of the orthodox Democrats, who two years be- 
fore had voted against restricting the extension of slavery, 
and were now asked for the sake of the Union to sup- 
port a Government which was actually abolishing slavery 
by martial law. Also the attitude of the thoroughly self- 
righteous partisan is perfectly usual. Many of Governor 
Seymour's utterances were fair enough, and much of his 
conduct was patriotic enough. His main proceedings 
can be briefly summarised. His election as Governor in 
the end of 1862 was regarded as an important event, the 
appearance of a new leader holding an office of the great- 
est influence. Lincoln, assuming, as he had a right to do, 
the full willingness of Seymour to co-operate in prosecut- 
ing the war, did the simplest and best thing. He wrote 
and invited Seymour after his inauguration in March, 
1863, to a personal conference with himself as to the 
ways in which, with their divergent views, they could 
best co-operate. The Governor waited three weeks be- 
fore he acknowledged this letter. He then wrote and 
promised a full reply later. He never sent this reply. 
He protested energetically and firmly against the arrest 
of Vallandigham. In July, 1863, the Conscription Act 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 385 

began to be put in force in New York city ; then occurred 
the only serious trouble that ever did occur under the 
Act; and it was very serious. A mob of foreign immi- 
grants, mainly Irish, put a forcible stop to the proceeding 
of the draft. It set fire to the houses of prominent 
Republicans, and prevented the fire brigade from saving 
them. It gave chase to all negroes that it met, beating 
some to death, stringing up others to trees and lamp-posts 
and burning them as they hung. It burned down an 
orphanage for coloured children after the police had with 
difficulty saved its helpless inmates. Four days of riot- 
ing prevailed throughout the city before the arrival of 
fresh troops restored order. After an interval of prudent 
length the draft was successfully carried out. Governor 
Seymour arrived in the city during the riots. He ha- 
rangued this defiled mob in gentle terms, promising them, 
if they would be good, to help them in securing redress 
of the grievance to which he attributed their conduct. 
Thenceforward to the end of his term of office he per- 
secuted Lincoln with complaints as to the unfairness of 
the quota imposed on certain districts under the Con- 
scription Act. It is true that he also protested on pre- 
sumably sincere constitutional grounds against the Act 
itself, begging Lincoln to suspend its enforcement till its 
validity had been determined by the Courts. As to this 
Lincoln most properly agreed to facilitate, if he could, 
an appeal to the Supreme Court, but declined, on the 
ground of urgent military necessity, to delay the drafts 
in the meantime. Seymour's obstructive conduct, how- 
ever, was not confined to the intelligible ground of ob- 
jection to the Act itself; it showed itself in the perpetual 
assertion that the quotas were unfair. No complaint as 
to this had been raised before the riots. It seems that a 
quite unintended error may in fact at first have been 
made. Lincoln, however, immediately reduced the quotas 
in question to the full extent which the alleged error 
would have required. Fresh complaints from Seymour 
followed, and so on to the end. Ultimately Seymour 
was invited to come to Washington and have out the 



386 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

whole matter of his complaints in conference with Stan- 
ton. Like a prudent man, he again refused to face per- 
sonal conference. It seems that Governor Seymour, who 
was a great person in his day, was very decidedly, in the 
common acceptance of the term, a gentleman. This has 
been counted unto him for righteousness. It should 
rather be treated as an aggravation of his very unmer- 
itable conduct. 

Thus, since the Proclamation of Emancipation the 
North had again become possessed of what is sometimes 
considered a necessity of good government, an organised 
Opposition ready and anxious to take the place of the 
existing Administration. It can well be understood that 
honourable men entered into this combination, but it is 
difficult to conceive on what common principle they could 
hold together which would not have been disastrous in 
its working. The more extreme leaders, who were likely 
to prove the driving force among them, were not unfitly 
satirised in a novel of the time called the " Man With- 
out a Country." Their chance of success in fact depended 
upon the ill-fortune of their country in the war and on 
the irritation against the Government, which could be 
aroused by that cause alone and not by such abuses as 
they fairly criticised. In the latter part of 1863 the 
war was going well. A great meeting of " Union men ■' 
was summoned in August in Illinois. Lincoln was 
tempted to go and speak to them, but he contented him- 
self with a letter. Phrases in it might suggest the stump 
orator, more than in fact his actual stump speeches usually 
did. In it, however, he made plain in the simplest lan- 
guage the total fallacy of such talk of peace as had lately 
become common; the Confederacy meant the Confederate 
army and the men who controlled it; as a fact no sug- 
gestion of peace or compromise came from them; if it 
ever came, the people should know it. In equally sim- 
ple terms he sought to justify, even to supporters of the 
Union who did not share his " wish that all men could 
be free/' his policy in regard to emancipation. In any 
case, freedom had for the sake of the Union been prom* 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 387 

ised to negroes who were now fighting or working for 
the North, " and the promise being made must be kept." 
As that most critical year of the war drew to a close 
there was a prevailing recognition that the rough but 
straight path along which the President groped his way 
was the right path, and upon the whole he enjoyed a 
degree of general favour which was not often his por- 
tion. 

3. The War in 1864, 

It is the general military opinion that before the war 
entered on its final stage Jefferson Davis should have 
concentrated all his forces for a larger invasion of the 
North than was ever in fact undertaken. In the Gettys- 
burg campaign he might have strengthened Lee's army 
by 20,000 men if he could have withdrawn them from 
the forts at Charleston. Charleston, however, was 
threatened during 1863 D Y tne sea an ^ l an d forces of 
the North, in an expedition which was probably itself 
unwise, as Lincoln himself seems to have suspected, but 
which helped to divert a Confederate army. In the be- 
ginning of 1864 Davis still kept this force at Charleston; 
he persisted also in keeping a hold on his own State, 
Mississippi, with \ further small army; while Longstreet 
still remained in the south-east corner of Tennessee, 
where a useful employment of his force was contemplated 
but none was made. The chief Southern armies with 
which we have to deal are that of Lee, lying south of 
the Rapidan, and that of Bragg, now superseded by 
Joseph Johnston, at Dalton, south of Chattanooga. The 
Confederacy, it is thought, was now in a position in 
which it might take long to reduce it, but the only mili- 
tary chance for it was concentration on one great counter- 
stroke. This seems to have been the opinion of Lee and 
Longstreet. Jefferson Davis clung, even late in the year 
1864, to the belief that disaster must somehow overtake 
any invading Northern army which pushed far. Possi- 
bly he reckoned also that the North would weary of the 
repeated checks in the process of conquest. Indeed, as 



388 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

will be seen later, the North came near to doing so, while 
a serious invasion of the North, unless overwhelmingly 
successful, might really have revived its spirit. In any 
case Jefferson Davis, unlike Lincoln, had no desire to be 
guided by his best officers. He was for ever quarrelling 
with Joseph Johnston and often with Beauregard; the 
less capable Bragg, though removed from the West, was 
now installed as his chief adviser in Richmond; and the 
genius of Lee was not encouraged to apply itself to the 
larger strategy of the war. 

At the beginning of 1864 an advance from Chatta- 
nooga southward into the heart of the Confederate 
country was in contemplation. Grant and Farragut 
wished that it should be supported by a joint military 
and naval attack upon Mobile, in Alabama, on the Gulf 
of Mexico. Other considerations on the part of the 
Government prevented this. In 1863 Marshal Bazaine 
had invaded Mexico to set up Louis Napoleon's ill-fated 
client the Archduke Maximilian as Emperor. As the 
so-called " Monroe Doctrine " (really attributable to the 
teaching of Hamilton and the action of John Quincy 
Adams, who was Secretary of State under President 
Monroe) declared, such an extension of European in- 
fluence, more especially dynastic influence, on the Amer- 
ican continent was highly unacceptable to the United 
States. Many in the North were much excited, so much 
so that during 1864 a preposterous resolution, which 
meant, if anything, war with France, was passed on the 
motion of one Henry Winter Davis. It was of course 
the business of Lincoln and of Seward, now moulded to 
his views, to avoid this disaster, and yet, with such dig- 
nity as the situation allowed, keep the French Govern- 
ment aware of the enmity which they might one day 
incur. They did this. But they apprehended that the 
French, with a footing for the moment in Mexico, had 
designs on Texas; and thus, though the Southern forces 
in Texas were cut off from the rest of the Confederacy 
and there was no haste for subduing them, it was thought 
expedient, with an eye on France, to assert the interest of 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 389 

the Union in Texas. General Banks, in Louisiana, was 
sent to Texas with the forces which would otherwise 
have been sent to Mobile. His various endeavours ended 
in May, 1864, with the serious defeat of an expedition 
up the Red River. This defeat gave great annoyance to 
the North and made an end of Banks* reputation. It 
might conceivably have had a calamitous sequel in the 
capture by the South of Admiral Porter's river flotilla, 
which accompanied Banks, and the consequent undoing 
of the conquest of the Mississippi. As it was it wasted 
much force. 

Before Grant could safely launch his forces southward 
from Chattanooga against Johnston, it was necessary to 
deal in some way with the Confederate force still at large 
in Mississippi. Grant determined to do this by the 
destruction of the railway system by which alone it could 
move eastward. For this purpose he left Thomas to 
hold Chattanooga, while Sherman was sent to Meridian, 
the chief railway centre in the Southern part of Missis- 
sippi. In February Sherman arrived there, and, though 
a subsidiary force, sent from Memphis on a similar but 
less important errand somewhat further north, met with 
a severe repulse, he was able unmolested to do such dam- 
age to the lines around Meridian as to secure Grant's 
purpose. 

There was yet a further preliminary to the great final 
struggle. On March 1, 1864, pursuant to an Act of 
Congress which was necessary for this object, Lincoln 
conferred upon Grant the rank of Lieutenant-General, 
never held by any one else since Washington, for it was 
only brevet rank that was conferred on Scott. There- 
with Grant took the command, under the President, of 
all the Northern armies. Grant came to Washington to 
receive his new honour. He had taken leave of Sherman 
in an interchange of letters which it is good to read; but 
he had intended to return to the West. Sherman, who 
might have desired the command in the West for himself, 
had unselfishly pressed him to return. He feared that 
the dreaded politicians would in some way hurt Grant, 



390 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

and that Be would be thwarted by them, become dis- 
gusted, and retire; they did hurt him, but not then, nor 
in the way that Sherman had expected. Grant, however, 
could trust Sherman to carry out the work he wanted 
done in the West, and he now saw that, as Lincoln might 
have told him and possibly did, the work he wanted done 
in the East must be done by him. He went West again 
for a few days only, to settle his plans with Sherman. 
Sherman with his army of 100,000 was to follow John- 
ston's army of about 60,000, wherever it went, till he 
destroyed it. Grant with his 120,000 was to keep up an 
equally unfaltering fight with Lee's army, also of 60,000. 
There was, of course, nothing original about this con- 
ception except the idea, fully present to both men's minds, 
of the risk and sacrifice with which it was worth while 
to carry it out. Lincoln and Grant had never met till 
this month. Grant at the first encounter was evidently 
somewhat on his guard. He was prepared to like Lincoln, 
but he was afraid of mistaken dictation from him, and 
determined to discourage it. Also Stanton had advised 
him that Lincoln, out of mere good nature, would talk 
unwisely of any plans discussed with him. This was prob- 
ably quite unjust. Stanton, in order to keep politicians 
and officers in their places, was accustomed to bite off 
the noses of all comers. Lincoln, on the contrary, would 
talk to all sorts of people with a readiness which was 
sometimes astonishing, but there was a good deal of 
method in this — he learnt something from these people 
all the time — and he certainly had a very great power of 
keeping his own counsel when he chose. In any case, 
when Grant at the end of April left Washington for the 
front, he parted with Lincoln on terms of mutual trust 
which never afterwards varied. Lincoln in fact, satisfied 
as to his general purpose, had been happy to leave him 
to make his plans for himself. He wrote to Grant: 
" Not expecting to see you again before the spring cam- 
paign begins, I wish to express in this way my entire sat- 
isfaction with what you have done up to this time so far 
as I understand it. The particulars of your plan I neither 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 391 

know nor seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant, 
and, pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any con- 
straints or restraints upon you. While I am very anxious 
that any great disaster or capture of our men in great 
numbers shall be avoided, I know these points are less 
likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. 
If there is anything wanting which is within my power to 
give, do not fail to let me know it. And now, with a 
brave army and a just cause, may God sustain you." 
Grant replied : " From my first entrance into the volun- 
teer service of the country to the present day I have never 
had cause of complaint — have never expressed or implied 
a complaint against the Administration, or the Secretary 
of War, for throwing any embarrassment in the way of 
my vigorously prosecuting what appeared to me my duty. 
Indeed, since the promotion which placed me in command 
of all the armies, and in view of the great responsibility 
and importance of success, I have been astonished at the 
readiness with which everything asked for has been 
yielded, without even an explanation being asked. Should 
my success be less than I desire or expect, the least I can 
say is, the fault is not with you." At this point the real 
responsibility of Lincoln in regard to military events be- 
came comparatively small, and to the end of the war 
those events may be traced with even less detail than has 
hitherto been necessary. 

Upon joining the Army of the Potomac Grant retained 
Meade, with whom he was pleased, in a somewhat anom- 
alous position under him as commander of that army. 
" Wherever Lee goes," he told him, " there you will go 
too." His object of attack was, in agreement with the 
opinion which Lincoln had from an early date formed, 
Lee's army. If Lee could be compelled, or should choose, 
to shut himself up in Richmond, as did happen, then 
Richmond would become an object of attack, but not 
otherwise. Grant, however, hoped that he might force 
Lee to give him battle in the open. In the open or be- 
hind entrenchments, he meant to fight him, reckoning 
that if he lost double the number that Lee did, his own 



392 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

loss could easily be made up, but Lee's would be irrepa- 
rable. His hope was to a large extent disappointed. He 
had to do with a greater general than himself, who, with 
his men, knew every inch of a tangled country. In the 
engagements which now followed, Grant's men were con- 
stantly being hurled against chosen positions, entrenched 
and with the new device of wire entanglements in front 
of them. " I mean," he wrote, " to fight it out on this 
line if it takes all summer." It took summer, autumn, 
winter, and the early spring. Once across the Rapidan 
he was in the tract of scrubby jungle called the Wilder- 
ness. He had hoped to escape out of this unopposed and 
at the same time to turn Lee's right by a rapid march to 
his own left. But he found Lee in his way. On May 5 
and 6 there was stubborn and indecisive fighting, with a 
loss to Grant of 17,660 and to Lee of perhaps over 
10,000 — from Grant's point of view something gained. 
Then followed a further movement to the left to out- 
flank Lee. Again Lee was to be found in the way in a 
chosen position of his own near Spottsylvania Court 
House. Here on the five days from May 8 to May 12 
the heavy fighting was continued, with a total loss to 
Grant of over 18,000 and probably a proportionate loss 
to Lee. Another move by Grant to the left now caused 
Lee to fall back to a position beyond the North Anna 
River, on which an attack was made but speedily given 
up. Further movements in the same general direction, 
but without any such serious fighting — Grant still en- 
deavouring to turn Lee's right, Lee still moving so as to 
cover Richmond — brought Grant by the end of the month 
to Cold Harbour, some ten miles east by north of Rich- 
mond, close upon the scene of McClellan's misadventures. 
Meanwhile Grant had caused an expedition under Gen- 
eral Butler to go by sea up the James, and to land a little 
south of Richmond, which, with the connected fortress 
of Petersburg, twenty-two miles to the south of it, had 
only a weak garrison left. Butler was a man with re- 
markable powers of self-advertisement; he had now a 
very good chance of taking Petersburg, but his expedition 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 393 

failed totally. From June i to June 3 Grant was occu- 
pied on the most disastrous enterprise of his career, a 
hopeless attack upon a strong entrenched position, which, 
with the lesser encounters that took place within the next 
few days, cost the North 14,000 men, against a loss to 
the South which has been put as low as 1,700. It was 
the one battle which Grant regretted having fought. He 
gave up the hope of a fight with Lee on advantageous 
conditions outside Richmond. On June 12 he suddenly 
moved his army across the James to the neighbourhood 
of City Point, east of Petersburg. Lee must now stand 
siege in Richmond and Petersburg. Had he now marched 
north against Washington, Grant would have been after 
him and would have secured for his vastly larger force 
the battle in the open which he had so far vainly sought. 
Yet another disappointment followed. On July 30 an 
attempt was made to carry Petersburg by assault imme- 
diately after the explosion of an enormous mine. It failed 
with heavy loss, through the fault of the amiable but in- 
judicious Burnside, who now passed into civil life, and 
of the officers under him. The siege was to be a long 
affair. In reality, for all the disappointment, and in spite 
of Grant's confessed mistake at Cold Harbour, his grim 
plan was progressing. The force which the South could 
ill spare was being worn down, and Grant was in a posi- 
tion in which, though he might have got there at less cost, 
and though the end would not be yet, the end was sure. 
His army was for the time a good deal shaken, and the 
estimation in which the West Point officers held him sank 
low. His own determination was quite unshaken, and, 
though Lincoln hinted somewhat mildly that these enor- 
mous losses ought not to recur, his confidence in Grant 
was unabated, too. 

People in Washington who had watched all this with 
alternations of feeling that ended in dejection had had 
another trial to their nerves early in July. The Northern 
General Sigel, who commanded in the lower part of the 
Shenandoah Valley, protecting the Baltimore and Ohio 
Railway, had marched southward in June in pursuance 



394 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

of a subsidiary part of Grant's scheme, but in a careless 
and rather purposeless manner. General Early, detached 
by Lee to deal with him, defeated him; outmanoeuvred 
and defeated General Hunter, who was sent to super- 
sede him; overwhelmed with superior force General Lew 
Wallace, who stood in his way further on; and upon July 
ii appeared before Washington itself. The threat to 
Washington had been meant as no more than a threat, 
but the garrison was largely made up of recruits; rein- 
forcements to it sent back by Grant arrived only on the 
same day as Early, and if that enterprising general had 
not wasted some previous days there might have been a 
chance that he could get into Washington, though not 
that he could hold it. As it was he attacked one of the 
Washington forts. Lincoln was present, exhibiting, till 
the officers there insisted on his retiring, the indifference 
to personal danger which he showed on other occasions 
too. The attack was soon given up, and in a few days 
Early had escaped back across the Potomac, leaving in 
Grant's mind a determination that the Shenandoah Valley 
should cease to be so useful to the South. 

Sherman set out from Chattanooga on the day when 
Grant crossed the Rapidan. Joseph Johnston barred his 
way in one entrenched position after another. Sherman, 
with greater caution than Grant, or perhaps with greater 
facilities of ground, manoeuvred him out of each position 
in turn, pushing him slowly back along the line of the 
railway towards Atlanta, the great manufacturing centre 
of Georgia, one hundred and twenty miles south by east 
from Chattanooga. Only once, towards the end of June 
at Kenesaw Mountain, some twenty miles north of At- 
lanta, did he attack Johnston's entrenchments, causing 
himself some unnecessary loss and failing in his direct 
attack on them, but probably thinking it necessary to 
show that he would attack whenever needed. Johnston 
has left a name as a master of defensive warfare, and 
doubtless delayed and hampered Sherman as much as he 
could. Jefferson Davis angrily and unwisely sent General 
Hood to supersede him. This less prudent officer gave 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 395 

battle several times, bringing up the Confederate loss 
before Atlanta fell to 34,000 against 30,000 on the other 
side, and being, by great skill on Sherman's part, com- 
pelled to evacuate Atlanta on September 2. 

By this time there had occurred the last and most 
brilliant exploit of old Admiral Farragut, who on August 
5 in a naval engagement of extraordinarily varied inci- 
dent, had possessed himself of the harbour of Mobile, 
with its forts, though the town remained as a stronghold 
in Confederate hands and prevented a junction with Sher- 
man which would have quite cut the Confederacy in two. 

Nearer Washington, too, a memorable campaign was 
in process. For three weeks after Early's unwelcome 
visit, military mismanagement prevailed near Washing- 
ton. Early was able to turn on his pursuers, and a further 
raid, this time into Pennsylvania, took place. Grant was 
too far off to exercise control except through a sufficiently 
able subordinate, which Hunter was not. Halleck, as in 
a former crisis, did not help matters. Lincoln, though 
at this time he issued a large new call for recruits, was 
Unwilling any longer to give military orders. Just now 
his political anxieties had reached their height. His judg- 
ment was never firmer, but friends thought his strength 
was breaking under the strain. On this and on all 
grounds he was certainly wise to decline direct interfer- 
ence in military affairs. On August 1 Grant ordered 
General Philip H. Sheridan to the Shenandoah on tem- 
porary duty, expressing a wish that he should be put " in 
command of all the troops in the field, with instructions 
to put himself south of the enemy or follow him to the 
death." Lincoln telegraphed to Grant, quoting this 
despatch and adding, " This I think is exactly right; but 
please look over the despatches you may have received 
from here even since you made that order and see if there 
is any idea in the head of any one here of putting our 
army south of the enemy or following him to the death 
in any direction. I repeat to you it will neither be done 
nor attempted unless you watch it every day and hour and 
force it." Grant now came to Hunter's army and gently 



396 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

placed Sheridan In that general's place. The operations 
of that autumn, which established Sheridan's fame and 
culminated in his final defeat of Early at Cedar Creek 
on October 19, made him master of all the lower part of 
the valley. Before he retired into winter quarters he had 
so laid waste the resources of that unfortunate district 
that Richmond could no longer draw supplies from it, 
nor could it again support a Southern army in a sally 
against the North. 

In the month of November Sherman began a new and 
extraordinary movement, of which the conception was 
all his own, sanctioned with reluctance by Grant, and 
viewed with anxiety by Lincoln, though he maintained 
his absolute resolve not to interfere. He had fortified 
himself in Atlanta, removing its civil inhabitants, in an 
entirely humane fashion, to places of safety, and he had 
secured a little rest for his army. But he lay far south 
in the heart of what he called "Jeff Davis' Empire," 
and Hood could continually harass him by attacks on his 
communications. Hood, now supervised by Beauregard, 
was gathering reinforcements, and Sherman learnt that 
he contemplated a diversion by invading Tennessee. 
Sherman determined to divide his forces, to send Thomas 
far back into Tennessee with sufficient men, as he calcu- 
lated, to defend it, and himself with the rest of his army 
to set out for the eastern sea-coast, wasting no men on 
the maintenance of his communications, but living on 
the country and " making the people of Georgia feel the 
weight of the war." He set out for the East on Novem- 
ber 15. Hood, at Beauregard's orders, shortly marched 
off for the North, where the cautious Thomas awaited 
events within the fortifications of Nashville. At Frank- 
lin, in the heart of Tennessee, about twenty miles south 
of Nashville, Hood's army suffered badly in an attack 
upon General Schofield, whom Thomas had left to check 
his advance while further reinforcements came to Nash- 
ville. Schofield fell back slowly on Thomas, Hood rashly 
pressing after him with a small but veteran army now 
numbering 44,000. Grant and the Washington author- 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 397 

ities viewed with much concern an invasion which Thomas 
had suffered to proceed so far. Grant had not shared 
Sherman's faith in Thomas. He now repeatedly urged 
him to act, but Thomas had his own views and obstinately 
bided his time. Days followed when frozen sleet made 
an advance impossible. Grant had already sent Logan 
to supersede Thomas, and, growing still more anxious, 
had started to come west himself, when the news reached 
him of a battle on December 15 and 16 in which Thomas 
had fallen on Hood, completely routing him, taking on 
these days and in the pursuit that followed no less than 
13,000 prisoners. 

There was a song, "As we go marching through 
Georgia, " which was afterwards famous, and which Sher- 
man could not endure. What his men most often sang, 
while they actually were marching through Georgia, was 
another, and of its kind a great song: — 

" John Brown's body lies amouldering in the grave, 
But his soul goes marching on. 
Glory, glory, Hallelujah." 

Their progress was of the nature of a frolic, though in 
one way a very stern frolic. They had little trouble from 
the small and scattered Confederate forces that lay near 
their route. They industriously and ingeniously destroyed 
the railway track of the South, heating the rails and twist- 
ing them into knots; and the rich country of Georgia, 
which had become the chief granary of the Confederates, 
was devastated as they passed, for a space fifty or sixty 
miles broad, by the destruction of all the produce they 
could not consume. This was done under control by 
organised forage parties. Reasonable measures were 
taken to prevent private pillage of houses. No doubt it 
happened. Sherman's able cavalry commander earned a 
bad name, and " Uncle Billy," as they called him to his 
face, clearly had a soft corner in his heart for the light- 
hearted and light-fingered gentlemen called " bummers " 
(a " bummer," says the Oxford Dictionary, " is one who 
quits the ranks and goes on an independent foraging ex- 



398 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

pedition on his own account"). They were, incidentally, 
Sherman found, good scouts. But the serious crimes 
committed were very few, judged by the standard of 
the ordinary civil population. The authentic complaints 
recorded relate to such matters as the smashing of a 
grand piano or the disappearance of some fine old 
Madeira. Thus the suffering caused to individuals was 
probably not extreme, and a long continuance of the war 
was rendered almost impossible. A little before Christ- 
mas Day, 1864, Sherman had captured, with slight oppo- 
sition, the city of Savannah, on the Atlantic, with many 
guns and other spoils, and was soon ready to turn north- 
wards on the last lap of his triumphant course. Lincoln's 
letter of thanks characteristically confessed his earlier 
unexpressed and unfulfilled fears. 

Grant was proceeding all the time with his pressure on 
the single large fortress which Richmond and Petersburg 
together constituted. Its circuit was far too great for 
complete investment. His efforts were for a time di- 
rected to seizing the three railway lines which converged 
from the south on Petersburg and to that extent cutting 
off the supplies of the enemy. But he failed to get hold 
of the most important of these railways. He settled 
down to the slow process of entrenching his own lines 
securely and extending the entrenchment further and 
further round the south side of Petersburg. Lee was 
thus being forced to extend the position held by his own 
small army further and further. In time the lines would 
crack and the end come. 

It need hardly be said that despair was invading the 
remnant of the Confederacy; supplies began to run short 
in Richmond, recruiting had ceased, desertion was in- 
creasing. Before the story of its long resistance closes 
it is better to face the gravest charge against the South. 
That charge relates to the misery inflicted upon many 
thousands of Northern prisoners in certain prisons or 
detention camps of the South. The alleged horrors were 
real and were great. The details should not be com- 
memorated, but it is right to observe that the pitiable 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 399 

condition in which the stricken survivors of this captivity 
returned, and the tale they had to tell, caused the bitter- 
ness which might be noted afterwards in some North- 
erners. The guilt lay mainly with a few subordinate but 
uncontrolled officials. In some degree it must have been 
shared by Jefferson Davis and his Administration, though 
a large allowance should be made for men so sorely 
driven. But it affords no ground whatever, as more for- 
tunate prisoners taken by the Confederates have some- 
times testified, for any general imputation of cruelty 
against the Southern officers, soldiers, or people. There 
is nothing in the record of the war which dishonours the 
South, nothing to restrain the tribute to its heroism which 
is due from a foreign writer, and which is irrepressible 
in the case of a writer who rejoices that the Confederacy 
failed. 

4. The Second Election of Lincoln: 1864. 

Having the general for whom he had long sought, 
Lincoln could now be in military matters little more than 
the most intelligent onlooker; he could maintain the atti- 
tude, congenial to him where he dealt with skilled men, 
that when he differed from them they probably knew bet- 
ter than he. This was well, for in 1864 his political anx- 
ieties became greater than they had been since war de- 
clared itself at Fort Sumter. Whole States which had 
belonged to the Confederacy were now securely held by 
the Union armies, and the difficult problem of their gov- 
ernment was approaching its final settlement. It seemed 
that the war should soon end; so the question of peace 
was pressed urgently. Moreover, the election of a Pres- 
ident was due in the autumn, and, strange as it is, the 
issue was to be whether, with victory in their grasp, the 
victors should themselves surrender. 

It was not given to Lincoln after all to play a great 
part in the reconstruction of the South ; that was reserved 
for much rougher and much weaker hands. But the 
lines on which he had moved from the first are of interest. 
West .Virginia, with its solid Unionist population, was 



400 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

simply allowed to form itself into an ordinary new State. 
But matters were not so simple where the Northern 
occupation was insecure, or where a tiny fraction of a 
State was held, or where a large part of the people leaned 
to the Confederacy. Military governors were of course 
appointed; in Tennessee this position was given to a 
strong Unionist, Andrew Johnson, who was already Sen- 
ator for that State. In Louisiana and elsewhere Lincoln 
encouraged the citizens who would unreservedly accept 
the Union to organise State Governments for themselves. 
Where they did so there was friction between them and 
the Northern military governor who was still indispensa- 
ble. There was also to the end triangular trouble between 
the factions in Missouri and the general commanding 
there. To these little difficulties, which were of course 
unceasing, Lincoln applied the firmness and tact which 
were no longer surprising in him, with a pleasing mixture 
of good temper and healthy irritation. But further diffi- 
culties lay in the attitude of Congress, which was con- 
cerned in the matter because each House could admit or 
reject the Senators or Representatives claiming to sit for 
a Southern State. There were questions about slavery 
in such States. Lincoln, as we have seen, had desired, if 
he could, to bring about the abolition of slavery through 
gradual and through local action, and he had wished to 
see the franchise given only to the few educated negroes. 
Nothing came of this, but it kept up the suspicion of 
Radicals in Congress that he was not sound on slavery; 
and, apart from slavery, the whole question of the terms 
on which people lately in arms against the country could 
be admitted as participators in the government of the 
country was one on which statesmen in Congress had 
their own very important point of view. Lincoln's main 
wish was that, with the greatest speed and the least heat 
spent on avoidable controversy, State government of 
spontaneous local growth should spring up in the recon- 
quered South. " In all available ways," he had written 
to one of his military governors, " give the people a 
chance to express their wishes at these elections. Follow 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 401 

forms of law as far as convenient, but at all events get 
the expression of the largest number of people possible." 
Above all he was afraid lest in the Southern elections to 
Congress that very thing should happen which after his 
death did happen. " To send a parcel of Northern men 
here as representatives, elected, as would be understood 
(and perhaps really so), at the point of the bayonet, 
would be disgraceful and outrageous." For a time he and 
Congress worked together well enough, but sharp dis- 
agreement arose in 1864. He had propounded a partic- 
ular plan for the reconstruction of Southern States. Sen- 
ator Wade, the formidable Chairman of the Joint 
Committee on the War, and Henry Winter Davis, a keen, 
acrid, and fluent man who was powerful with the House, 
carried a Bill under which a State could only be recon- 
structed on their own plan, which differed from Lincoln's. 
The Bill came to Lincoln for signature in the last hours 
of the session, and, amidst frightened protests from 
friendly legislators then in his room, he let it lie there 
unsigned, till it expired with the session, and went on with 
his work. This was in July, 1864; his re-election was 
at stake. The Democrats were gaining ground ; he might 
be giving extreme offence to the strongest Republican. 
" If they choose," he said, " to make a point of this I do 
not doubt that they can do harm " (indeed, those power- 
ful men Wade and Davis now declared against his re- 
election with ability and extraordinary bitterness) ; but 
he continued: "At all events I must keep some con- 
sciousness of being somewhere near right. I must keep 
some standard or principle fixed within myself." The 
Bill would have repressed loyal efforts already made to 
establish State Governments in the South. It contained 
also a provision imposing the abolition of slavery on 
every such reconstructed State. This was an attempt to 
remedy any flaw in the constitutional effect of the Procla- 
mation of Emancipation. But it was certainly in itself 
flagrantly unconstitutional; and the only conclusive way 
of abolishing slavery was the Constitutional Amendment, 
for which Lincoln was now anxious. This was not a 



402 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

pedantic point, for there might have been great trouble 
if the courts had later found a constitutional flaw in some 
negro's title to freedom. But the correctness of Lincoln's 
view hardly matters. In lots of little things, like a tired 
man who was careless by nature, Lincoln may perhaps 
have yielded to influence or acted for his political con- 
venience in ways which may justly be censured, but it 
would be merely immoral to care whether he did so or 
did not, since at the crisis of his fate he could risk all for 
one scruple. In an earlier stage of his controversies with 
the parties he had written: " From time to time I have 
done and said what appeared to me proper to do and 
say. The public knows it all. It obliges nobody to follow 
me, and I trust it obliges me to follow nobody. The Rad- 
icals and Conservatives each agree with me in some 
things and disagree in others. I could wish both to agree 
with me in all things ; for then they would agree with each 
other, and be too strong for any foe from any quarter. 
They, however, choose to do otherwise, and I do not 
question their right. I, too, shall do what seems to be 
my duty. I hold whoever commands in Missouri or else- 
where responsible to me and not to either Radicals or 
Conservatives. It is my duty to hear all; but at last I 
must, within my sphere, judge what to do and what to 
forbear." 

In this same month of July, after the Confederate 
General Early's appearance before Washington had 
given Lincoln a pause from political cares, another 
trouble reached a point at which it is known to have tried 
his patience more than any other trouble of his Presi- 
dency. Peace after war is not always a matter of sub- 
stituting the diplomatist for the soldier. When two sides 
were fighting, one for Union and the other for Inde- 
pendence, one or the other had to surrender the whole 
point at issue. In this case there might appear to have 
been a third possibility. The Southern States might have 
been invited to return to the Union on terms which ad- 
mitted their right to secede again if they felt aggrieved. 
The invitation would in fact have been refused. But, if 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 403 

it had been made and accepted, this would have been a 
worse surrender for the North than any mere acknowl- 
edgment that the South could not be reconquered; for 
national unity from that day to this would have existed on 
the sufferance of a factious or a foreign majority in any 
single State. Lincoln had faced this. He was there to 
restore the Union on a firm foundation. He meant to 
insist to the point of pedantry that, by not so much as a 
word or line from the President or any one seeming to 
act for him, should the lawful right of secession even 
appear to be acknowledged. Some men would have been 
glad to hang Jefferson Davis as a traitor, yet would have 
been ready to negotiate with him as with a foreign king. 
Lincoln, who would not have hurt one hair of his head, 
and would have talked things over with Mr. Davis quite 
pleasantly, would have died rather than treat with him on 
the footing that he was head of an independent Confed- 
eracy. The blood shed might have been shed for nothing 
if he had done so. But to many men, in the long agony 
of the war and its disappointments, the plain position be- 
came much obscured. The idea in various forms that by 
some sort of negotiation the issue could be evaded began 
to assert itself again and again. The delusion was freely 
propagated that the South was ready to give in if only 
Lincoln would encourage its approaches. It was sheer 
delusion. Jefferson Davis said frankly to the last that 
the Confederacy would have " independence or extermi- 
nation," and though Stephens and many others spoke of 
peace to the electors in their own States, Jefferson Davis 
had his army with him, and the only result which agita- 
tion against him ever produced was that two months be- 
fore the irreparable collapse the chief command under 
him was given to his most faithful servant Lee. But it 
was useless for Lincoln to expose the delusion in the 
plainest terms ; it survived exposure and became a danger 
to Northern unity. 

Lincoln therefore took a strange course, which gen- 
erally succeeded. When honest men came to him and 
said that the South could be induced to yield, he proposed 



404 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

to them that they should go to Jefferson Davis and see 
for themselves. The Chairman of the Republican organ- 
isation ultimately approached Lincoln on this matter at 
the request of a strong committee ; but he was a sensible 
man whom Lincoln at once converted by drafting the 
precise message that would have to be sent to the Con- 
federate President. On two earlier occasions such labour- 
ers for peace were allowed to go across the lines and talk 
with Davis; it could be trusted to their honour to pre- 
tend to no authority; they had interesting talks with the 
great enemy, and made religious appeals to him or en- 
tertained him with wild proposals for a joint war on 
France over Mexico. They returned, converted also. But 
in July Horace Greeley, the great editor, who was too 
opinionated to be quite honest, was somehow convinced 
that Southern agents at Niagara, who had really come 
to hold intercourse with the disloyal group among the 
Democrats, were " two ambassadors " from the Confed- 
eracy seeking an audience of Lincoln. He wrote to 
Lincoln, begging him to receive them. Lincoln caused 
Greeley to go to Niagara and see the supposed ambassa- 
dors himself. He gave him written authority to bring to 
him any person with proper credentials, provided, as he 
made plain in terms that perhaps were blunt, that the 
basis of any negotiation should include the recognition 
of the Union and the abolition of slavery. The persons 
whom Greeley saw had no authority to treat about any- 
thing. Greeley in his irritation now urged Lincoln to 
convey to Jefferson Davis through these mysterious men 
his readiness to receive them if they were accredited. In 
other words, the North was to begin suing for peace — a 
thing clearly unwise, which Lincoln refused. Greeley 
now involved Lincoln in a tangled controversy to which 
he gave such a turn that, unless Lincoln would publish 
the most passionately pacific of Greeley's letters, to the 
great discouragement of the public with whom Greeley 
counted, he must himself keep silent on what had passed. 
He elected to keep silent while Greeley in his paper 
criticised him as the person responsible for the continu* 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 405 

ance of senseless bloodshed. This was publicly harmful; 
and, as for its private bearing, the reputation of obsti- 
nate blood-thirstiness was certain to be painful to Lincoln. 

The history of Lincoln's Cabinet has a bearing upon 
what is to follow. He ruled his Ministers with undis- 
puted authority, talked with them collectively upon the 
easiest terms, spoke to them as a headmaster to his school 
when they caballed against one another, kept them in 
some sort of unison in a manner which astonished all 
who knew them. Cameron had had to retire early; so 
did the little-known Caleb Smith, who was succeeded in 
his unimportant office as Secretary of the Interior by a 
Mr. Usher, who seems to have been well chosen. Bates, 
the Attorney-General, retired, weary of his work, towards 
the end of 1864, and Lincoln had the keen pleasure of 
appointing James Speed, the brother of that unforgotten 
and greatly honoured friend whom he honoured the more 
for his contentedness with private station. James Speed 
himself was in Lincoln's opinion " an honest man and a 
gentleman, and one of those well-poised men, not too 
common here, who are not spoiled by a big office." 

Blair might be regarded as a delightful, or equally as 
an intolerable man. He attacked all manner of people 
causelessly and violently, and earned implacable dislike 
from the Radicals in his party. Then he frankly asked 
Lincoln to dismiss him whenever it was convenient. There 
came a time when Lincoln's re-election was in great peril, 
and he might, it was urged, have made it sure by dis- 
missing Blair. It is significant that Lincoln then refused 
to promote his own cause by seeming to sacrifice Blair, 
but later on, when his own election was fairly certain, but 
a greater degree of unity in the Republican party was to 
be gained, did ask Blair to go; (Blair's quarrels, it should 
be added, had become more and more outrageous). So 
he went and immediately flung himself with enthusiasm 
into the advocacy of Lincoln's cause. All the men who 
left Lincoln remained his friends, except one who will 
shortly concern us. Of Lincoln's more important min- 
isters Welles did his work for the Navy industriously but 



4 o6 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

unnoted. Stanton, on the other hand, and Lincoln's rela- 
tions with Stanton are the subjects of many pages of lit- 
erature. These two curious and seemingly incompatible 
men hit upon extraordinary methods of working together. 
It can be seen that Lincoln's chief care in dealing with his 
subordinates was to give support and to give free play to 
any man whose heart was in his work. In countless small 
matters he would let Stanton disobey him and flout him 
openly. (" Did Stanton tell you I was a damned fool? 
Then I expect I must be one, for he is almost always 
right and generally says what he means.") But every 
now and then, when he cared much about his own wish, 
he would step in and crush Stanton flat. Crowds of appli- 
cants to Lincoln with requests of a kind that must be 
granted sparingly were passed on to Stanton, pleased 
with the President, or mystified by his sadly observing 
that he had not much influence with this Administration 
but hoped to have more with the next. Stanton always 
refused them. He enjoyed doing it. Yet it seems a low 
trick to have thus indulged his taste for unpopularity, till 
one discovers that, when Stanton might have been blamed 
seriously and unfairly, Lincoln was very careful to shoul- 
der the blame himself. The gist of their mutual dealings 
was that the hated Stanton received a thinly disguised, 
but quite unfailing support, and that hated or applauded, 
ill or well, wrong in this detail and right in that, he abode 
in his department and drove, and drove, and drove, and 
worshipped Lincoln. To Seward, who played first and 
last a notable part in history, and who all this time con- 
ducted foreign affairs under Lincoln without any mishap 
in the end, one tribute is due. When he had not a master 
it is said that his abilities were made useless by his ego- 
tism; yet it can be seen that, with his especial cause to be 
jealous of Lincoln, he could not even conceive how men 
let private jealousy divide them in the performance of 
duty. 

It was otherwise with the ablest man in the Cabinet. 
Salmon P. Chase must really have been a good man in 
the days before he fell in love with his own goodness. 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 407 

Lincoln and the country had confidence in his manage- 
ment of the Treasury, and Lincoln thought more highly 
of his general ability than of that of any other man about 
him. He, for his part, distrusted and despised Lincoln. 
Those who read Lincoln's important letters and speeches 
see in him at once a great gentleman; there were but 
few among the really well-educated men of America who 
made much of his lacking some of the minor points of 
gentility to which most of them were born; but of these 
few Chase betrayed himself as one. At the beginning of 
1864 Chase was putting it about that he had himself no 
wish to be President, but — ; that of course he was loyal 
to Mr. Lincoln, but — ; and so forth. He had, as indeed 
he deserved, admirers who wished he should be Presi- 
dent, and early in the year some of them expressed this 
wish in a manifesto. Chase wrote to Lincoln that this 
was not his own doing; Lincoln replied that he himself 
knew as little of these things " as my friends will allow 
me to know." To those who spoke to him of Chase's 
intrigues he only said that Chase would in some ways 
make a very good President, and he hoped they would 
never have a worse President than he. The movement in 
favour of Chase collapsed very soon, and it evidently 
had no effect on Lincoln. Chase, however, was begin- 
ning to foster grievances of his own against Lincoln. 
These related always to appointments in the service of 
the Treasury. He professed a horror of party influences 
in appointments, and imputed corrupt motives to Lincoln 
in such matters. He shared the sound ideas of the later 
civil service reformers, though he was far too easily man- 
aged by a low class of flatterers to have been of the 
least use in carrying them out. Lincoln would certainly 
not at that crisis have permitted strife over civil service 
reform, but some of his admirers have probably gone 
too far in claiming him as a sturdy supporter of the old 
school who would despise the reforming idea. Letters 
of his much earlier betray his doubts as to the old sys- 
tem, and he was exactly the man who in quieter times 
could have improved matters with the least possible fuss* 



4 o8 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

However that may be, all the tiresome circumstances of 
Chase's differences with him are well known, and in these 
instances Lincoln was clearly in the right, and Chase 
quarrelled only because he could not force upon him ap- 
pointments that would have created fury. Once Chase 
was overruled and wrote his resignation. Lincoln went 
to him with the resignation in his hand, treated him with 
simple affection for a man whom he still liked, and made 
him take it back. Later on Chase got his own way on 
the whole, but was angry and sent another resignation. 
Some one heard of it and came to Lincoln to say that the 
loss of Chase would cause a financial panic. Lincoln's 
answer was to this effect: " Chase thinks he has become 
indispensable to the country; that his intimate friends 
know it, and he cannot comprehend why the country does 
not understand it. He also thinks he ought to be Presi- 
dent; has no doubt whatever about that. It is inconceiv- 
able to him why people do not rise as one man and say 
so. He is a great statesman, and at the bottom a patriot. 
Ordinarily he discharges the duties of a public office with 
greater ability than any man I know. Mind, I say ' ordi- 
narily/ but he has become irritable, uncomfortable, so 
that he is never perfectly happy unless he is thoroughly 
miserable and able to make everybody else just as un- 
comfortable as he is himself* He is either determined 
to annoy me, or that I shall pat him on the shoulder and 
coax him to stay. I don't think I ought to do it. I will 
not do it. I will take him at his word." So he did. This 
was at the end of June, 1864, when Lincoln's apprehen- 
sions about his own re-election were keen, and the resig- 
nation of Chase, along with the retention of Blair, seemed 
likely to provoke anger which was very dangerous to him- 
self. An excellent successor to the indispensable man was 
soon found. Chase found more satisfaction than ever in 
insidious opposition to Lincoln. Lincoln's opportunity 
of requiting him was not yet. 

The question of the Presidency loomed large from the 
beginning of the year to the election in November. At 
first, while the affairs of war seemed to be in good train, 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 409 

the chief question was who should be the Republican can- 
didate. It was obviously not a time when a President of 
even moderate ability and character, with all the threads 
in his hands, could wisely have been replaced except for 
overwhelming reasons. But since 1832, when Jackson 
had been re-elected, the practice of giving a President a 
second term had lapsed. It has been seen that there 
was friction, not wholly unnatural, between Lincoln and 
many of his party. The inner circles of politicians were 
considering what candidate could carry the country. They 
were doing so with great anxiety, for disaffection was 
growing serious in the North and the Democrats would 
make a good fight. They honestly doubted whether Lin^ 
coin was the best candidate, and attributed their own 
excited mood of criticism to the public at large. They 
forgot the leaning of ordinary men towards one who is 
already serving them honestly. Of the other possible 
candidates, including Chase, Fremont had the most en- 
ergetic backers. Enough has been said already of his 
delusive attractiveness. General Butler had also some 
support. He was an impostor of a coarser but more use- 
ful stamp. A successful advocate in Massachusetts, he 
had commanded the militia of the State when they first 
appeared on the scene at Baltimore in 1861, and he had 
been in evidence ever since without sufficient opportunity 
till May, 1864, of proving that real military incapacity 
of which some of Lincoln's friends suspected him. He 
had a kind of resourceful impudence, coupled with execu- 
tive vigour and a good deal of wit, which had made him 
useful in the less martial duties of his command. Gen- 
erals in a war of this character were often so placed that 
they had little fighting to do and much civil government, 
and Butler, who had first treated slaves as " contraband " 
and had dealt with his difficulties about negroes with more 
heart and more sense than many generals, had to some 
extent earned his reputation among the Republicans. 
Thus of those volunteer generals who never became good 
soldiers he is said to have been the only one that escaped 
the constant process of weeding out. To the end he kept 



410 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

confidently claiming higher rank in the Army, and when 
he had signally failed under Grant at Petersburg he suc- 
ceeded somehow in imposing himself upon that, at first 
indignant, general. Nothing actually came of the danger 
that the public might find a hero in this man, who was 
neither scrupulous nor able, but he had so captivated ex- 
perienced politicians that some continued even after Lin- 
coln's re-election to think Butler the man whom the peo- 
ple would have preferred. Last but not least many were 
anxious to nominate Grant. It was an innocent thought, 
but Grant's merits were themselves the conclusive reason 
why he should not be taken from the work he had already 
in hand. 

Through the early months of the year the active poli- 
ticians earnestly collogued among themselves about pos- 
sible candidates, and it seems there was little sign among 
them of that general confidence in Lincoln which a little 
while before had been recognised as prevailing in the 
country. In May the small and light-headed section of 
the so-called Radicals who favoured Fremont organised 
for themselves a " national meeting " of some few people 
at which they nominated him for the Presidency. They 
had no chance of success, but they might have helped the 
Democrats by carrying off some Republican votes. Be- 
sides, there are of course men who, having started as 
extremists in one direction and failed, will go over to the 
opposite extreme rather than moderate their aims. 
Months later, when a Republican victory of some sort 
became certain, unanimity among Republicans was se- 
cured; for some passions were appeased by the resigna- 
tion of Blair, and Fremont was prevailed upon tc with- 
draw. But in the meantime the Republican party had 
sent its delegates to a Convention at Baltimore early in 
June. This Convention met in a comparatively fortunate 
hour. In spite of the open disaffection of small sections, 
the Northern people had been in good spirits about the 
war when Grant set out to overcome Lee. At first he was 
felt to be progressing pretty well, and, though the reverse 
at Cold Harbour had happened a few days before, the 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 411 

size of that mishap was not yet appreciated. Ordinary 
citizens, called upon now and then to decide a broad and 
grave issue, often judge with greater calm than is possible 
to any but the best of the politicians and the journalists. 
Indeed, some serious politicians had been anxious to post- 
pone the Convention, justly fearing that these ignorant 
delegates were not yet imbued with that contempt for 
Lincoln which they had worked up among themselves. At 
the Baltimore Convention the delegates of one State 
wanted Grant, but the nomination of Lincoln was imme- 
diate and almost unanimous. This same Convention de- 
clared for a Constitutional Amendment to abolish 
slavery. Lincoln would say nothing as to the choice of 
a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. He was right, but 
the result was most unhappy in the end. The Convention 
chose Andrew Johnson. Johnson, whom Lincoln could 
hardly endure, began life as a journeyman tailor. He had 
raised himself like Lincoln, and had performed a great 
part in rallying the Unionists of Tennessee. But — not 
to dwell upon the fact that he was drunk when he was 
sworn in as Vice-President — his political creed was that 
of bitter class-hatred, and his character degenerated into 
a weak and brutal obstinacy. This man was to succeed 
Lincoln. Lincoln, in his letter to accept the nomination, 
wrote modestly, refusing to take the decision of the Con- 
vention as a tribute to his peculiar fitness for his post, but 
was " reminded in this connection of a story of an old 
Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion that it was 
not best to swap horses when crossing a stream." 

It remained possible that the dissatisfied Republicans 
would revolt later and put another champion in the field. 
But now attention turned to the Democrats. Their Con- 
vention was to meet at Chicago at the end of August, 
and in the interval the North entered upon the period 
of deepest mental depression that came to it during the 
war. It is startling to learn now that in the course of 
that year, when the Confederacy lay like a nut in the 
nutcrackers, when the crushing of its resistance might 
indeed require a little stronger pressure than was ex- 



412 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

pected, and the first splitting in its hard substance might 
not come on the side on which it was looked for, but when 
no wise man could have a doubt as to the end, the vic- 
torious people were inclined to think that the moment had 
come for giving in. " In this purpose to save the country 
and its liberties," said Lincoln, " no class of people seem 
so nearly unanimous as the soldiers in the field and the 
sailors afloat. Do they not have the hardest of it? Who 
should quail while they do not? " Yet there is conclusive 
authority for saying that there was now more quailing in 
the North than there had ever been before. When the 
war had gone on long, checks to the course of victory 
shook the nerves of people at home more than crush- 
ing defeats had shaken them in the first two years of the 
struggle, and men who would have wrapped the word 
" surrender " in periphrasis went about with surrender 
in their hearts. Thus the two months that went before 
the great rally of the Democrats at Chicago were months 
of good omen for a party which, however little the many 
honourable men in its ranks were willing to face the fact, 
must base its only hope upon the weakening of the na- 
tional will. For public attention was turned away from 
other fields of war and fixed upon the Army of the 
Potomac. Sherman drove back Johnston, and routed 
Hood; Farragut at Mobile enriched the annals of the 
sea; but what told upon the imagination of the North 
was that Grant's earlier progress was followed by the 
definite failure of his original enterprise against Lee's 
army, by Northern defeats on the Shenandoah and an 
actual dash by the South against Washington, by the 
further failure of Grant's first assault upon Petersburg, 
and by hideous losses and some demoralisation in his 
army. The candidate that the Democrats would put for- 
ward and the general principle of their political strategy 
were well known many weeks before their Convention 
met; and the Republicans already despaired of defeating 
them. In the Chicago Convention there were men, ap- 
parently less reputable in character than their frank atti- 
tude suggests, who were outspoken against the war ; their 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 413 

leader was Vallandigham. There were men who spoke 
boldly for the war, but more boldly against emancipa- 
tion and the faults of the Government; their leader was 
Seymour, talking with the accent of dignity and of patriot- 
ism. Seymour, for the war, presided over the Conven- 
tion; Vallandigham, against the war, was the master 
spirit in its debates. It was hard for such men, with 
any saving of conscience, to combine. The mode of com- 
bination which they discovered is memorable in the his- 
tory of faction. First they adopted a platform which 
meant peace; then they adopted a candidate intended to 
symbolise successful war. They resolved " that this Con- 
vention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the Amer- 
ican people, that after four years of failure to restore 
the Union by the experiment of war . . . justice, hu- 
manity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that imme- 
diate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a 
view to an ultimate convention of the States or other 
peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practi- 
cable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the 
Federal Union of the States." The fallacy which named 
the Union as the end while demanding as a means the 
immediate cessation of hostilities needs no demonstration. 
The resolution was thus translated : " Resolved that the 
war is a failure " ; and the translation had that trenchant 
accuracy which is often found in American popular epi- 
gram. The candidate chosen was McClellan; McClellan 
in set terms repudiated the resolution that the war was 
a failure, and then accepted the candidature. He meant 
no harm to the cause of the Union, but he meant no def- 
inite and clearly conceived good. Electors might now 
vote Democratic because the party was peaceful or be- 
cause the candidate was a warrior. The turn of fortune 
was about to arrest this combination in the really formid- 
able progress of its crawling approach to power. Per- 
haps it was not only, as contemporary observers thought, 
events in the field that began within a few days to make 
havoc with the schemes of McClellan and his managers. 
Perhaps if the patience of the North had been tried a 



4 i4 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

little longer the sense of the people would still have re- 
coiled from the policy of the Democrats, which had now 
been defined in hard outline. As a matter of fact it was 
only in the months while the Chicago Convention was still 
impending and for a few days or weeks after it had actu- 
ally taken place that the panic of the Republicans lasted. 
But during that time the alarm among them was very 
great, whether it was wholly due to the discouragement 
of the people about the war or originated among the 
leaders and was communicated to their flock. Sagacious 
party men reported from their own neighbourhoods that 
there was no chance of winning the election. In one 
quarter or another there was talk of setting aside Lincoln 
and compelling Grant to be a candidate. About August 
12 Lincoln was told by Thurlow Weed, the greatest of 
party managers, that his election was hopeless. Ten days 
later he received the same assurance from the central Re- 
publican Committee through their chairman, Raymond, 
together with the advice that he should make overtures 
for peace. 

Supposing that in the following November McClellan 
should have been elected, and that in the following March 
he should have come into office with the war unfinished, 
it seems now hardly credible that he would have returned 
to slavery, or at least disbanded without protection the 
150,000 negroes who were now serving the North. Lin- 
coln, however, seriously believed that this was the course 
to which McClellan's principles and those of his party 
committed him, and that (policy and honour apart) this 
would have been for military reasons fatal. McClellan 
had repudiated the Peace Resolution, but his followers 
and his character were to be reckoned with rather than 
his words, and indeed his honest principles committed him 
deeply to some attempt to reverse Lincoln's policy as to 
slavery, and he clearly must have been driven into nego- 
tiations with the South. The confusion which must inev- 
itably be created by attempts to satisfy the South, when 
it was in no humour of moderation, and by the fury which 
yielding would have provoked in half the people of the 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 415 

North, was well and tersely described by Grant in a letter 
to a friend, which that friend published in support of 
Lincoln. At a fair at Philadelphia for the help of the 
wounded Lincoln said: "We accepted this war; we did 
not begin it. We accepted it for an object, and when that 
object is accomplished the war will end, and I hope to 
God that it will never end until that object is accom- 
plished." Whatever the real mind of McClellan and of 
the average Democrat may have been, it was not this; 
and the posterity of Mr. Facing-both-ways may succeed 
in an election, but never in war or the making of lasting 
peace. 

Lincoln looked forward with happiness, after he was 
actually re-elected, to the quieter pursuits of private life 
which might await him in four years' time. He looked 
forward not less happily to a period of peace administra- 
tion first, and there can be no doubt that he would have 
prized as much as any man the highest honour that his 
countrymen could bestow, a second election to the Presi- 
dency. But, even in a smaller man who had passed 
through such an experience as he had and was not warped 
by power, these personal wishes might well have been 
merged in concern for the cause in hand. There is every- 
thing to indicate that they were completely so in his case. 
A President cannot wisely do much directly to promote 
his own re-election, but he appears to have done singu- 
larly little. At the beginning of 1864, when the end of 
the war seemed near, and the election of a Republican 
probable, he may well have thought that he would be the 
Republican candidate, but he had faced the possible 
choice of Chase very placidly, and of Grant he said, " If 
he takes Richmond let him have the Presidency." It was 
another matter when the war again seemed likely to drag 
on and a Democratic President might come in before the 
end of it. An editor who visited the over-burdened Presi- 
dent in August told him that he needed some weeks of 
rest and seclusion. But he said, " I cannot fly from my 
thoughts. I do not think it is personal vanity or ambition, 
though I am not free from those infirmities, but I cannot 



4 i6 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

but feel that the weal or woe of the nation will be de* 
cided in November. There is no proposal offered by any 
wing of the Democratic party but that must result in the 
permanent destruction of the Union." He would have 
been well content to make place for Grant if Grant had 
finished his work. But that work was delayed, and then 
Lincoln became greatly troubled by the movement to 
force Grant, the general whom he had at last found, into 
politics with his work undone; for all would have been 
lost if McClellan had come in with the war still progress- 
ing badly. Lincoln had been invited in June to a gather- 
ing in honour of Grant, got up with the thinly disguised 
object of putting the general forward as his rival. He 
wrote, with true diplomacy: " It is impossible for me to 
attend. I approve nevertheless of whatever may tend to 
strengthen and sustain General Grant and the noble 
armies now under his command. He and his brave sol- 
diers are now in the midst of their great trial, and I trust 
that at your meeting you will so shape your good words 
that they may turn to men and guns, moving to his and 
their support." In August he told his mind plainly to 
Grant's friend Eaton. He never dreamed for a moment 
that Grant would willingly go off into politics with the 
military situation still insecure, and he believed that no 
possible pressure could force Grant to do so ; but on this 
latter question he wished to make himself sure; with a 
view to future military measures he really needed to bt? 
sure of it. Eaton saw Grant, and in the course of con- 
versation very tactfully brought to Grant's notice the 
designs of his would-be friends. " We had," writes 
Eaton, " been talking very quietly, but Grant's reply came 
in an instant and with a violence for which I was not pre- 
pared. He brought his clenched fists down hard on the 
strap arms of his camp chair, ■ They can't do it. They 
can't compel me to do it.' Emphatic gesture was not a 
strong point with Grant. ' Have you said this to the 
President? ' I asked. * No,' said Grant. ■ I have not 
thought it worth while to assure the President of my 
opinion. I consider it as important for the cause that 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 417 

he should be elected as that the army should be successful 
in the field.' " u I told you," said Lincoln afterwards, 
" they could not get him to run till he had closed out the 
rebellion. " Since the great danger was now only that 
McClellan would become President in March, there was 
but one thing to do — to try and finish the war before then. 
Raymond's advice in favour of negotiations with the 
South now came, and Lincoln's mode of replying to this 
has been noticed. Rumours were afloat that if McClellan 
won in November there would be an attempt to bring him 
irregularly into power at once. Lincoln let it be known 
that he should stay at his post at all costs till the last 
lawful day. On August 23, in that curious way in which 
deep emotion showed itself with him, he wrote a resolu- 
tion upon a paper, which he folded and asked his min- 
isters to endorse with their signatures without reading it. 
They all wrote their names on the back of it, ready, if 
that were possible, to commit themselves blindly to sup- 
port of him in whatever he had resolved; a great tribute 
to him and to themselves. He sealed it up and put it away. 
How far in this dark time the confidence of the people 
had departed from Lincoln no one can tell. It might be 
too sanguine a view of the world to suppose that they 
would have been proof against what may be called a con- 
spiracy to run him down. There were certainly quarters 
in which the perception of his worth came soon and re- 
mained. Not all those who are poor or roughly brought 
up were among those plain men whose approval Lincoln 
desired and often expected; but at least the plain man 
does exist and the plain people did read Lincoln's words. 
The soldiers of the armies in the East by this time knew 
Lincoln well, and there were by now, as we shall see, in 
every part of the North, honest parents who had gone to 
Washington, and entered the White House very sad, and 
came out very happy, and taken their report of him home. 
No less could there be found, among those to whom 
America had given the greatest advantages that birth and 
upbringing can offer, families in which, when Lincoln died, 
a daughter could write to her father as Lady Harcourt 



4 i8 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

(then Miss Lily Motley) wrote: "I echo your 'thank 
God ' that we always appreciated him before he was 
taken from us." But if we look at the political world, we 
find indeed noble exceptions such as that of Charles 
Sumner among those who had been honestly perplexed 
by Lincoln's attitude on slavery; we have to allow for the 
feelings of some good State Governor who had come to 
him with a tiresome but serious proposition and been 
adroitly parried with an untactful and coarse apologue; 
yet it remains to be said that a thick veil, woven of self- 
conceit and half-education, blinded most politicians to 
any rare quality in Lincoln, and blinded them to what was 
due in decency to any man discharging his task. The evi- 
dence collected by Mr. Rhodes as to the tone prevailing 
in 1864 at Washington and among those in touch with 
Washington suggests that strictly political society was on 
the average as poor in brain and heart as the court of 
the most decadent European monarchy. It presents a 
stern picture of the isolation, on one side at least, in which 
Lincoln had to live and work. 

A little before this crowning period of Lincoln's career 
Walt Whitman described him as a man in the streets of 
Washington could see him, if he chose. He has been 
speaking of the cavalry escort which the President's ad- 
visers insisted should go clanking about with him. " The 
party," he continues, " makes no great show in uniform 
or horses. Mr. Lincoln on the saddle generally rides a 
good-sized, easy-going grey horse, is dressed in plain 
black, somewhat rusty and dusty, and looks about as ordi- 
nary in attire, etc., as the commonest man. The entirely 
unornamental cortege arouses no sensation; only some 
curious stranger stops and gazes. I see very plainly 
Abraham Lincoln's dark brown face, with the deep-cut 
lines, the eyes always to me with a deep latent sadness in 
the expression. We have got so that we exchange bows, 
and very cordial ones. Sometimes the President goes 
and comes in an open barouche " (not, the poet intimates, 
a very smart turn-out). "Sometimes one of his sons, a 
boy of ten or twelve, accompanies him, riding at his right 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 419 

on a pony. They passed me once very close, and I saw 
the President in the face fully as they were moving slowly, 
and his look, though abstracted, happened to be directed 
steadily in my eye. He bowed and smiled, but far be- 
neath his smile I noticed well the expression I have al- 
luded to. None of the artists or pictures has caught the 
deep though subtle and indirect expression of this man's 
face. There is something else there. One of the great 
portrait painters of two or three centuries ago is needed." 
The little boy on the pony was Thomas, called " Tad," 
a constant companion of his father's little leisure, now 
dead. An elder boy, Robert, has lived to be welcomed 
as Ambassador in this country, and was at this time a 
student at Harvard. Willie, a clever and lovably mis- 
chievous child, " the chartered libertine of the White 
House " for a little while, had died at the age of twelve 
in the early days of 1862, when his father was getting so 
impatient to stir McClellan into action. These and a son 
who had long before died in infancy were the only chil- 
dren of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. Little has been made 
public concerning them, but enough to convey the impres- 
sion of a wise and tender father, trusted by his children 
and delighting in them. John Nicolay, his loyal and 
capable secretary, and the delightful John Hay must be 
reckoned on the cheerful side — for there was one — of 
Lincoln's daily life. The life of the home at the White 
House, and sometimes in summer at the " Soldiers' 
Home " near Washington, was simple, and in his own 
case (not in that of his guests) regardless of the time, 
sufficiency, or quality of meals. He cannot have given 
people much trouble, but he gave some to the guard who 
watched him, themselves keenly watched by Stanton; 
for he loved, if he could, to walk alone from his midnight 
conferences at the War Department to the White House 
or the Soldiers' Home. The barest history of the events 
with which he dealt is proof enough of long and hard and 
anxious working days, which continued with hardly a 
break through four years. In that history many a com- 
plication has here been barely glanced at or clean left out; 



4 20 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

in this year, for example, the difficulty about France and 
Mexico and the failure of the very estimable Banks in 
Texas have been but briefly noted. And there must be 
remembered, in addition, the duty of a President to be 
accessible to all people, a duty which Lincoln especially 
strove to fulfil. 

Apart from formal receptions, the stream of callers on 
him must have given Lincoln many compensations for its 
huge monotony. Very odd, and sometimes attractive, 
samples of human nature would come under his keen eye. 
Now and then a visitor came neither with a troublesome 
request, nor for form's sake or for curiosity, but in sim- 
ple honesty to pay a tribute of loyalty or speak a word of 
good cheer which Lincoln received with unfeigned grati- 
tude. Farmers and back-country folk, of the type he 
could best talk with, came and had more time than he 
ought to have spared bestowed on them. At long inter- 
vals there came a friend of very different days. Some in- 
genious men, for instance, fitted out Dennis Hanks in a 
new suit of clothes and sent him as their ambassador to 
plead for certain political offenders. It is much to be 
feared that they were more successful than they deserved, 
though Stanton intervened and Dennis, when he had seen 
him, favoured his old companion, the President, with ad- 
vice to dismiss that minister. But the immense variety of 
puzzling requests to be dealt with in such interviews must 
have made heavy demands upon a conscientious and a 
kind man, especially if his conscience and his kindness 
were, in small matters, sometimes at variance. Lincoln 
sent a multitude away with that feeling, so grateful to 
poor people, that at least they had received such hearing 
as it was possible to give them; and in dealing with the 
applications which imposed the greatest strain on himself 
he made an ineffaceable impression upon the memory of 
his countrymen. 

The American soldier did not take naturally to disci- 
pline. Death sentences, chiefly for desertion or for sleep- 
ing or other negligence on the part of sentries, were con- 
tinually being passed by courts-martial. In some cases or 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 421 

at some period these used to come before the President 
on a stated day of the week, of which Lincoln would often 
speak with horror. He was continually being appealed 
to in relation to such sentences by the father or mother 
of the culprit, or some friend. At one time, it may be, he 
was too ready with pardon; " You do not know," he said, 
" how hard it is to let a human being die, when you feel 
that a stroke of your pen will save him." Butler used to 
write to him that he was destroying the discipline of the 
army. A letter of his to Meade shows clearly that, later 
at least, he did not wish to exercise a merely cheap and 
inconsiderate mercy. The import of the numberless par- 
don stories really is that he would spare himself no 
trouble to enquire, and to intervene wherever he could 
rightly give scope to his longing for clemency. A Con- 
gressman might force his way into his bedroom in the 
middle of the night, rouse him from his sleep to bring to 
his notice extenuating facts that had been overlooked, and 
receive the decision, " Well, I don't see that it will do him 
any good to be shot." It is related that William Scott, a 
lad from a farm in Vermont, after a tremendous march 
in the Peninsula campaign, volunteered to do double 
guard duty to spare a sick comrade, slept at his post, was 
caught, and was under sentence of death, when the Presi- 
dent came to the army and heard of him. The President 
visited him, chatted about his home, looked at his 
mother's photograph, and so forth. Then he laid his 
hands on the boy's shoulders and said with a trembling 
voice, " My boy, you are not going to be shot. I believe 
you when you tell me that you could not keep awake. I 
am going to trust you and send you back to the regiment 
But I have been put to a great deal of trouble on your 
account. . . . Now what I want to know is, how are 
you going to pay my bill? " Scott told afterwards how 
difficult it was to think, when his fixed expectation of death 
was suddenly changed; but how he managed to master 
himself, thank Mr. Lincoln and reckon up how, with his 
pay and what his parents could raise by mortgage on their 
farm and some help from his comrades, he might pay the 



422 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

bill if it were not more than five or six hundred dollars. 
" But it is a great deal more than that," said the Presi- 
dent. " My bill is a very large one. Your friends cannot 
pay it, nor your bounty, nor the farm, nor all your com- 
rades. There is only one man in the world who can pay 
it, and his name is William Scott. If from this day 
William Scott does his duty, so that, when he comes to 
die, he can look me in the face as he does now and say, 
4 1 have kept my promise and I have done my duty as a 
soldier,' then my debt will be paid. Will you make the 
promise and try to keep it? " And William Scott did 
promise; and, not very long after, he was desperately 
wounded, and he died, but not before he could send a 
message to the President that he had tried to be a good 
soldier, and would have paid his debt in full if he had 
lived, and that he died thinking of Lincoln's kind face and 
thanking him for the chance he gave him to fall like a 
soldier in battle. If the story is not true — and there is no 
reason whatever to doubt it — still it is a remarkable man 
of whom people spin yarns of that kind. 

When Lincoln's strength became visibly tried friends 
often sought to persuade him to spare himself the need- 
less, and to him very often harrowing, labour of incessant 
interviews. They never succeeded. Lincoln told them 
he could not forget what he himself would feel in the 
place of the many poor souls who came to him desiring 
so little and with so little to get. But he owned to the 
severity of the strain. He was not too sensitive to the 
ridicule and reproach that surrounded him. " Give your- 
self no uneasiness," he had once said to some one who 
had sympathised with him over some such annoyance, " I 
have endured a great deal of ridicule without much 
malice, and have received a great deal of kindness not 
quite free from ridicule. I am used to it." But the gentle 
nature that such words express, and that made itself 
deeply felt by those that were nearest him, cannot but 
have suffered from want of appreciation. With all this 
added to the larger cares, which before the closing phases 
of the war opened had become so intense,, Lincoln must 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 423 

have been taxed near to the limit of what men have en- 
dured without loss of judgment, or loss of courage or loss 
of ordinary human feeling. There is no sign that any of 
these things happened to him; the study of his record 
rather shows a steady ripening of mind and character to 
the end. It has been seen how throughout his previous 
life the melancholy of his temperament impressed those 
who had the opportunity of observing it A colleague of 
his at the Illinois bar has told how on circuit he sometimes 
came down in the morning and found Lincoln sitting 
alone over the embers of the fire, where he had sat all 
night in sad meditation, after an evening of jest appar- 
ently none the less hilarious for his total abstinence. 
There was no scope for this brooding now, and in a sense 
the time of his severest trial cannot have been the sad- 
dest time of Lincoln's life. It must have been a cause 
not of added depression but of added strength that he 
had long been accustomed to face the sternest aspect of 
the world. He had within his own mind two resources, 
often, perhaps normally, associated together, but seldom 
so fully combined as with him. In his most intimate 
circle he would draw upon his stores of poetry, particu- 
larly of tragedy; often, for instance, he would recite such 
speeches as Richard II. 's : 

" For God's sake let us sit upon the ground 
And tell sad stories of the death of kings. 
All murdered." 

Slighter acquaintances saw, day by day, another element 
in his thoughts, the companion to this; for the hardly 
interrupted play of humour in which he found relief con- 
tinued to help him to the end. Whatever there was in it 
either of mannerism or of coarseness, no one can grudge 
it him; it is an oddity which endears. The humour of real 
life fades in reproduction, but Lincoln's, there is no doubt, 
was a vein of genuine comedy, deep, rich, and unsoured, 
of a larger human quality than marks the brilliant works 
of literary American humorists. It was, like the comedy 
of Shakespeare, plainly if unaccountably akin with the 



424 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

graver and grander strain of thought and feeling that in- 
spired the greatest of his speeches. Physically his splen- 
did health does not seem to have been impaired beyond 
recovery. But it was manifestly near to breaking; and 
the " deep-cut lines " were cut still deeper, and the long 
legs were always cold. 

The cloud over the North passed very suddenly. The 
North indeed paid the penalty of a nation which is spared 
the full strain of a war at the first, and begins to discover 
its seriousness when the hope of easy victory has been 
many times dashed down. It has been necessary to dwell 
upon the despondency which at one time prevailed; but 
it would be hard to rate too highly the military difficulty 
of the conquest undertaken by the North, or the trial in- 
volved to human nature by perseverance in such a task. 
If the depression during the summer was excessive, as it 
clearly was, at least the recovery which followed was fully 
adequate to the occasion which produced it. On Septem- 
ber 2 Sherman telegraphed, "Atlanta is ours and fairly 
won." The strategic importance of earlier successes may 
have been greater, but the most ignorant man who looked 
at a map could see what it signified that the North could 
occupy an important city in the heart of Georgia. Then 
they recalled Farragut's victory of a month before. Then 
there followed, close to Washington, putting an end to 
a continual menace, stirring and picturesquely brilliant 
beyond other incidents of the war, Sheridan's repeated 
victories in the Shenandoah Valley. The war which had 
been " voted a failure " was evidently not a failure. At 
the same time men of high character conducted a vigor- 
ous campaign of speeches for Lincoln. General Schurz, 
the German revolutionary Liberal, who lived to tell Bis- 
marck at his table that he still preferred democracy to 
his amused host's method of government, sacrificed his 
command in the Army — for Lincoln told him it could not 
be restored — to speak for Lincoln. Even Chase was car- 
ried away, and after months of insidious detraction, went 
for Lincoln on the stump. In the elections in November 
Lincoln was elected by an enormous popular majority 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 425 

giving him 212 out of the 233 votes in the electoral col- 
lege, where in form the election is made. Three North- 
ern States only, one of them his native State, had gone 
against him. He made some little speeches to parties 
which came to " serenade " him; some were not very 
formal speeches, for, as he said, he was now too old to 
" care much about the mode of doing things." But one 
was this : " It has long been a grave question whether 
any Government not too strong for the liberties of its 
people can be strong enough to maintain its existence in 
great emergencies. On this point the present rebellion 
brought our Government to a severe test, and a Presi- 
dential election occurring in regular course during the 
rebellion added not a little to the strain. But we cannot 
have a free Government without elections; and if the 
rebellion could force us to forego or postpone a national 
election it might fairly claim to have already conquered 
and ruined us. But the election along with its incidental 
and undesirable strife has done good too. It has demon- 
strated that a people's Government can sustain a national 
election in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it 
has not been known to the world that this was a possi- 
bility. But the rebellion continues, and now that the elec- 
tion is over may not all have a common interest to reunite 
in a common effort to save our common country? For 
my own part I have striven and shall strive to avoid 
placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been 
here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man's 
bosom. While I am duly sensible to the high compliment 
of a re-election, and duly grateful as I trust to Almighty 
God for having directed my countrymen to a right con- 
clusion, as I think, for their good, it adds nothing to my 
satisfaction that any man may be disappointed by the re- 
sult. May I ask those who have not differed from me to 
join with me in this same spirit towards those who have ? 
And now let me close by asking three hearty cheers for 
our brave soldiers and seamen, and their gallant and 
skilful commanders. " 

In the Cabinet he brought out the paper that he had 



426 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

sealed up in the dark days of August; he reminded his 
ministers of how they had endorsed it unread, and he read 
it them. Its contents ran thus : " This morning, as for 
some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this 
Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my 
duty to so co-operate with the President-elect as to save 
the Union between the election and the inauguration, as 
he will have secured his election on such ground that he 
cannot possibly save it afterwards. ,, Lincoln explained 
what* he had intended to do if McClellan had won. He 
would have gone to him and said, u General, this election 
shows that you are stronger, have more influence with 
the people of this country than I " ; and he would have 
invited him to co-operate in saving the Union now, by 
using that great influence to secure from the people the 
willing enlistment of enough recruits. "And the gen- 
eral," said Seward, "would have said, * Yes, yes'; and 
again the next day, when you spoke to him about it, * Yes, 
yes ' ; and so on indefinitely, and he would have done 
nothing." 

" Seldom in history," wrote Emerson in a letter after 
the election, " was so much staked upon a popular vote. 
I suppose never in history." 

And to those Americans of all classes and in all dis- 
tricts of the North, who had set their hearts and were 
giving all they had to give to preserve the life of the 
nation, the political crisis of 1864 would seem to have 
been the most anxious moment of the war. It is impos- 
sible — it must be repeated — to guess how great the dan- 
ger really was that their popular government might in the 
result betray the true and underlying will of the people; 
for in any country (and in America perhaps more than 
most) the average of politicians, whose voices are most 
loudly heard, can only in a rough and approximate fash- 
ion be representative. But there is in any case no cause 
for surprise that the North should at one time have 
trembled. Historic imagination is easily, though not 
one whit too deeply, moved by the heroic stand of the 
South. It is only after the effort to understand the light 



THE APPROACH OF VICTORY 427 

in which the task of the North has presented itself to 
capable soldiers, that a civilian can perceive what sus- 
tained resolution was required if, though far the stronger, 
it was to make its strength tell. Notwithstanding the 
somewhat painful impression which the political chronicle 
of this time at some points gives, it is the fact that the 
wisest Englishmen who were in those days in America 
and had means of observing what passed have retained a 
lasting sense of the constancy, under trial, of the North. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE END 

On December 6, 1864, Lincoln sent the last of his 
Annual Messages to Congress. He treated as matter for 
oblivion the " impugning of motives and heated contro- 
versy as to the proper means of advancing the Union 
cause," which had played so large a part in the Presi- 
dential election and the other elections of the autumn. 
For, as he said, " on the distinct issue of Union or no 
Union the politicians have shown their instinctive knowl- 
edge that there is no diversity among the people." This 
was accurate as well as generous, for though many Dem- 
ocrats had opposed the war, none had avowed that for 
the sake of peace he would give up the Union. Passing 
then to the means by which the Union could be made to 
prevail he wrote : " On careful consideration of all the 
evidence accessible it seems to me that no attempt at ne- 
gotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any 
good. He would accept nothing short of severance of 
the Union — precisely what we will not and cannot give. 
Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple, and in- 
flexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war and 
decided by victory. The abandonment of armed resist- 
ance to the national authority on the part of the insur- 
gents is the only indispensable condition to ending the 
war on the part of the Government." To avoid a possi- 
ble misunderstanding he added that not a single person 
who was free by the terms of the Emancipation Procla- 
mation or of any Act of Congress would be returned to 
slavery while he held the executive authority. " If the 
people should by whatever mode or means make it an 
executive duty to re-enslave such persons, another, and 
not I, must be their instrument to perform it." This last 

428 



THE END 429 

sentence was no meaningless flourish; the Constitutional 
Amendment prohibiting slavery could not be passed for 
some time, and might conceivably be defeated; in the 
meantime the Courts might possibly have declared any 
negro in the Southern States a slave; Lincoln's words let 
it be seen that they would have found themselves without 
an arm to enforce their decision. But in fact there was 
no longer an issue with the South as to abolition. Jeffer- 
son Davis had himself declared that slavery was gone, 
for most slaves had now freed themselves, and that he 
for his part troubled very little over that. There re- 
mained, then, no issue between North and South except 
that between Independence and Union. 

On the same day that he sent his annual message Lin- 
coln gave himself a characteristic pleasure by another 
communication which he sent to the Senate. Old Roger 
Taney of the Dred Scott case had died in October; the 
Senate was now requested to confirm the President's 
nomination of a new Chief Justice to succeed him; and 
the President had nominated Chase. Chase's reputation 
as a lawyer had seemed to fit him for the position, but 
the well informed declared that, in spite of some appear- 
ances on the platform for Lincoln he still kept u going 
around peddling his griefs in private ears and sowing dis- 
satisfaction against Lincoln." So in spite of Lincoln's 
pregnant remark on this subject that he " did not believe 
in keeping any man under," nobody supposed that Lin- 
coln would appoint him. Sumner and Congressman Alley 
of Massachusetts had indeed gone to Lincoln to urge the 
appointment. " We found, to our dismay," Alley relates, 
" that the President had heard of the bitter criticisms of 
Mr. Chase upon himself and his Administration. Mr. 
Lincoln urged many of Chase's defects, to discover, as 
we afterwards learned, how his objection could be an- 
swered. We were both discouraged and made up our 
minds that the President did not mean to appoint Mr. 
Chase. It really seemed too much to expect of poor 
human nature." One morning Alley again saw the Pres- 
ident. " I have something to tell you that will make you 



430 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

happy," said Lincoln. " I have just sent Mr. Chase word 
that he is to be appointed Chief Justice, and you are the 
first man I have told of it." Alley said something natural 
about Lincoln's magnanimity, but was told in reply what 
the only real difficulty had been. Lincoln from his " con- 
victions of duty to the Republican party and the coun- 
try " had always meant to appoint Chase, subject to one 
doubt which he had revolved in his mind till he had set- 
tled it. This doubt was simply whether Chase, beset as 
he was by a craving for the Presidency which he could 
never obtain, would ever really turn his attention with a 
will to becoming the great Chief Justice that Lincoln 
thought he could be. Lincoln's occasional failures of 
tact had sometimes a noble side to them; he even thought 
now of writing to Chase and telling him with simple 
seriousness where he felt his temptation lay, and he with 
difficulty came to see that this attempt at brotherly frank- 
ness would be misconstrued by a suspicious and jealous 
man. Charles Sumner, Chase's advocate on this occa- 
sion, was all this time the most weighty and the most 
pronounced of those Radicals who were beginning to 
press for unrestricted negro suffrage in the South and in 
general for a hard and inelastic scheme of " reconstruc- 
tion," which they would have imposed on the conquered 
South without an attempt to conciliate the feeling of the 
vanquished or to invite their co-operation in building up 
the new order. He was thus the chief opponent of that 
more tentative, but as is now seen, more liberal and more 
practical policy which lay very close to Lincoln's heart; 
enough has been said of him to suggest too that this 
grave person, bereft of any glimmering of fun, was in 
one sense no congenial companion for Lincoln. But he 
was stainlessly unselfish and sincere, and he was the 
politician above all others in Washington with whom 
Lincoln most gladly and most successfully maintained 
easy social intercourse. And, to please him in little ways, 
Lincoln would disentangle his long frame from the 
'" grotesque position of comfort " into which he had 
twisted it in talk with some other friend, and would as- 



THE END 43i 

sume in an instant a courtly demeanour when Sumner was 
about to enter his room. 

On January 31, 1865, the resolution earlier passed by 
the Senate for a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit 
slavery was passed by the House of Representatives, as 
Lincoln had eagerly desired, so that the requisite voting 
of three quarters of the States in its favour could now 
begin. Before that time the Confederate Congress had, 
on March 13, 1865, closed its last, most anxious and 
distracted session by passing an Act for the enlistment 
of negro volunteers, who were to become free on enlist- 
ment. As a military measure it was belated and inopera- 
tive, but nothing could more eloquently have marked the 
practical extinction of slavery which the war had wrought 
than the consent of Southern legislators to convert the 
remaining slaves into soldiers. 

The military operations of 1865 had proceeded but a 
very little way when the sense of what they portended 
was felt among the Southern leaders in Richmond. The 
fall of that capital itself might be hastened or be de- 
layed; Lee's army if it escaped from Richmond might 
prolong resistance for a shorter or for a longer time, but 
Sherman's march to the sea, and the far harder achieve- 
ments of the same kind which he was now beginning, 
made the South feel, as he knew it would feel, that not a 
port, not an arsenal, not a railway, not a corn district of 
the South lay any longer beyond the striking range of the 
North. Congressmen and public officials in Richmond 
knew that the people of the South now longed for peace 
and that the authority of the Confederacy was gone. 
They beset Jefferson Davis with demands that he should 
start negotiations. But none of them had determined 
what price they would pay for peace; and there was not 
among them any will that could really withstand their 
President. In one point indeed Jefferson Davis did wisely 
yield. On February 9, 1865, he consented to make Lee 
General-in-Chief of all the Southern armies. This be- 
lated delegation of larger authority to Lee had certain 
military results, but no political result whatever. Lee 



432 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

could have been the dictator of the Confederacy if he 
had chosen, and no one then or since would have blamed 
him; but it was not in his mind to do anything but his 
duty as a soldier. The best beloved and most memorable 
by far of all the men who served that lost cause, he had 
done nothing to bring about secession at the beginning, 
nor now did he do anything but conform to the wishes of 
his political chief. As for that chief, Lincoln had inter- 
preted Davis' simple position quite rightly. Having once 
embraced the cause of Southern independence and taken 
the oath as chief magistrate of an independent Confed- 
eracy, he would not yield up that cause while there was a 
man to obey his orders. Whether this attitude should be 
set down, as it usually has been set down, to a diseased 
pride or to a very real heroism on his part, he never faced 
the truth that the situation was desperate and the spirit 
of his people daunted at last. But it is probable that just 
like Lincoln he was ready that those who were in haste 
to make peace should see what peace involved; and it is 
probable too that, in his terrible position, he deluded him- 
self with some vague and vain hopes as to the attitude of 
the North. Lincoln on the other hand would not enter 
into any proceedings in which the secession of the South 
was treated otherwise than as a rebellion which must 
cease; but this did not absolutely compel him to refuse 
every sort of informal communication with influential men 
in the South, which might help them to see where they 
stood and from which he too might learn something. 

Old Mr. Francis Blair, the father of Lincoln's late 
Postmaster-General, was the last of the honest peace- 
makers whom Lincoln had allowed to see things for them- 
selves by meeting Jefferson Davis. His visit took place 
in January, 1865, and from his determination to be a go- 
between and the curious and difficult position in which 
Lincoln and Davis both stood in this respect an odd re- 
sult arose. The Confederate Vice-President Stephens, 
who had preached peace in the autumn without a quarrel 
with Davis, and two other Southern leaders presented 
themselves at Grant's headquarters with the pathetic mis* 



THE END 433 

representation that they were sent by Davis on a mission 
which Lincoln had undertaken to receive. What they 
could show was authority from Davis to negotiate with 
Lincoln on the footing of the independence of the Con- 
federacy, and a politely turned intimation from Lincoln 
that he would at any time receive persons informally sent 
to talk with a view to the surrender of the rebel armies. 
Grant, however, was deeply impressed with the sincerity 
of their desire for peace, and he entreated Lincoln to 
receive them. Lincoln therefore decided to overlook the 
false pretence under which they came. He gave Grant 
strict orders not to delay his operations on this account, 
but he came himself with Seward and met Davis' three 
commissioners on a ship at Hampton Roads on February 
3. He and Stephens had in old days been Whig Con- 
gressmen together, and Lincoln had once been moved to 
tears by a speech of Stephens. They met now as friends. 
Lincoln lost no time in making his position clear. The 
unhappy commissioners made every effort to lead him 
away from the plain ground he had chosen. It is evident 
that they and possible that Jefferson Davis had hoped 
that when face to face with them he would change his 
mind, and possibly Blair's talk had served to encourage 
this hope. They failed, but the conversation continued 
in a frank and friendly manner. Lincoln told them very 
freely his personal opinions as to how the North ought to 
treat the South when it did surrender, but was careful to 
point out that he could make no promise or bargain, ex- 
cept indeed this promise that so far as penalties for re- 
bellion were concerned the executive power, which lay in 
his sole hands, would be liberally used. Slavery was dis- 
cussed, and Seward told them of the Constitutional 
Amendment which Congress had now submitted to the 
people. One of the commissioners returning again to Lin- 
coln's refusal to negotiate with armed rebels, as he con- 
sidered them, cited the precedent of Charles I.'s conduct 
in this respect. " I do not profess," said Lincoln, " to 
be posted in history. On all such matters I turn you over 
to Seward. All I distinctly recollect about Charles I. is 



434 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

that he lost his head in the end." Then he broke out into 
simple advice to Stephens as to the action he could now 
pursue. He had to report to Congress afterwards that 
the conference had had no result. He brought home, 
however, a personal compliment which he valued. " I 
understand, then," Stephens had said, " that you regard 
us as rebels, who are liable to be hanged for treason.'' 
" That is so," said Lincoln. " Well," said Stephens, 
" we supposed that would have to be your view. But, to 
tell you the truth, we have none of us been much afraid 
of being hanged with you as President." He brought 
home, besides the compliment, an idea of a kind which, 
if he could have had his way with his friends, might have 
been rich in good. He had discovered how hopeless the 
people of the South were, and he considered whether a 
friendly pronouncement might not lead them more read- 
ily to surrender. He deplored the suffering in which the 
South might now lie plunged, and it was a fixed part of 
his creed that slavery was the sin not of the South but of 
the nation. So he spent the day after his return in draft- 
ing a joint resolution which he hoped the two Houses of 
Congress might pass, and a Proclamation which he would 
in that case issue. In these he proposed to offer to the 
Southern States four hundred million dollars in United 
States bonds, being, as he calculated the cost to the North 
of two hundred days of war, to be allotted among those 
States in proportion to the property in slaves which each 
had lost. One half of this sum was to be paid at once if 
the war ended by April i, and the other half upon the 
final adoption of the Constitutional Amendment. It 
would have been a happy thing if the work of restoring 
peace could have lain with a statesman whose rare aber- 
rations from the path of practical politics were of this 
kind. Yet, considering the natural passions which even 
in this least revengeful of civil wars could not quite be re- 
pressed, we should be judging the Congress of that day 
by a higher standard than we should apply in other coun« 
tries if we regarded this proposal as one that could have 
been hopefully submitted to them. Lincoln's illusions 



THE END 435 

were dispelled on the following day when he read what 
he had written to his Cabinet, and found that even among 
his own ministers not one man supported him. It would 
have been worse than useless to put forward his proposals 
and to fail. " You are all opposed to me," he said sadly; 
and he put his papers away. But the war had now so far 
progressed that it is necessary to turn back to the point at 
which we left it at the end of 1864. 

Winter weather brought a brief pause to the opera- 
tions of the armies. Sherman at Savannah was preparing 
to begin his northward march, a harder matter, owing to 
the rivers and marshes that lay in his way, than his tri- 
umphal progress from Atlanta. Efforts were made to 
concentrate all available forces against him at Augusta 
to his north-west. Making feints against Augusta on the 
one side, and against the city and port of Charleston on 
the other, he displayed the marvellous engineering 
capacity of his army by an advance of unlooked-for speed 
across the marshes to Columbia, due north of him, which 
is the State capital of South Carolina. He reached it on 
February 17, 1865. The intended concentration of the 
South at Augusta was broken up. The retreating Con- 
federates set fire to great stores of cotton and the unfor- 
tunate city was burnt, a calamity for which the South, by 
a natural but most unjust mistake, blamed Sherman. The 
railway communications of Charleston were now certain 
to be severed; so the Confederates were forced to evacu- 
ate it, and on February 18, 1865, the North occupied the 
chief home of the misbegotten political ideals of the South 
and of its real culture and chivalry. 

Admiral Porter (for age and ill-health had come upon 
Farragut) was ready at sea to co-operate with Sherman. 
Thomas' army in Tennessee had not been allowed by 
Grant to go into winter quarters. A part of it under Scho- 
field was brought to Washington and there shipped for 
North Carolina, where, ever since Burnside's successful 
expedition in 1862, the Union Government had held the 
ports north of Wilmington. Wilmington itself was the 
only port left to the South, and Richmond had now come 



436 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

to depend largely on the precarious and costly supplies 
which could still, notwithstanding the blockade, be run 
into that harbour. At the end of December, Butler, act- 
ing in flagrant disobedience to Grant, had achieved his 
crowning failure in a joint expedition with Porter against 
Wilmington. But Porter was not discouraged, nor was 
Grant, who from beginning to end of his career had 
worked well together with the Navy. On February 8, 
Porter, this time supported by an energetic general, 
Terry, effected a brilliant capture of Fort Fisher at the 
mouth of Wilmington harbour. The port was closed to 
the South. On the 22nd, the city itself fell to Schofield, 
and Sherman had now this sea base at hand if he needed 
it. 

Meanwhile Grant's entrenchments on the east of Rich- 
mond and Petersburg were still extending southward, and 
Lee's defences had been stretched till they covered nearly 
forty miles. Grant's lines now cut the principal railway 
southward from the huge fortress, and he was able effect- 
ually to interrupt communication by road to the south- 
west. There could be little doubt that Richmond would 
fall soon, and the real question was coming to be whether 
Lee and his army could escape from Richmond and still 
carry on the war. 

The appointment of Lee as General-in-Chief was not 
too late to bear one consequence which may have pro- 
longed the war a little. Joseph Johnston, whose ability 
in a campaign of constant retirement before overwhelm- 
ing force had been respected and redoubted by Sherman, 
had been discarded by Davis in the previous July. He 
was now put in command of the forces which it was hoped 
to concentrate against Sherman, with a view to holding 
up his northward advance and preventing him from join- 
ing hands with Grant before Richmond. There were alto- 
gether about 89,000 Confederate troops scattered in the 
Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, and there would be 
about the same number under Sherman when Schofield in 
North Carolina could join him, but the number which 
Johnston could now collect together seems never to have 



THE END 437 

exceeded 33,000. It was Sherman's task by the rapidity 
of his movements to prevent a very formidable concen- 
tration against him. Johnston on the other hand must 
hinder if he could Sherman's junction with Schofield. Just 
before that junction took place he narrowly missed deal- 
ing a considerable blow to Sherman's army at the battle 
of Bentonville in the heart of North Carolina, but had in 
the end to withdraw within an entrenched position where 
Sherman would not attack him, but which upon the ar- 
rival of Schofield he was forced to abandon. On March 
23, 1865, Sherman took possession of the town and rail- 
way junction of Goldsborough between Raleigh and New 
Berne. From Savannah to Goldsborough he had led his 
army 425 miles in fifty days, amid disadvantages of 
ground and of weather which had called forth both ex- 
traordinary endurance and mechanical skill on the part of 
his men. He lay now 140 miles south of Petersburg by 
the railway. The port of New Berne to the east of him 
on the estuary of the Neuse gave him a sure base of sup- 
plies, and would enable him quickly to move his army by 
sea to Petersburg and Richmond if Grant should so de- 
cide. The direction in which Johnston would now fall 
back lay inland up the Neuse Valley, also along a rail- 
way, towards Greensborough, some 150 miles south-west 
of Petersburg; Greensborough was connected by another 
railway with Petersburg and Richmond, and along this 
line Lee might attempt to retire and join him. 

All this time whatever designs Lee had of leaving 
Richmond were suspended because the roads in that 
weather were too bad for his transport; and, while of 
necessity he waited, his possible openings narrowed. 
Philip Sheridan had now received the coveted rank of 
Major-General, which McClellan had resigned on the 
day on which he was defeated for the Presidency. The 
North delighted to find in his achievements the dashing 
quality which appeals to civilian imagination, and Grant 
now had in him, as well as in Sherman, a lieutenant who 
would faithfully make his chief's purposes his own, and 
who would execute them with independent decision. The 



438 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

cold, in which his horses suffered, had driven Sheridan 
into winter quarters, but on February 27 he was able to 
start up the Shenandoah Valley again with 10,000 cav- 
alry. Most of the Confederate cavalry under Early had 
now been dispersed, mainly for want of forage in the 
desolated valley; the rest were now dispersed by Sheri- 
dan, and the greater part of Early's small force of in- 
fantry with all his artillery were captured. There was a 
garrison in Lynchburg, 80 or 90 miles west of Richmond, 
which though strong enough to prevent Sheridan's cav- 
alry from capturing that place was not otherwise of ac- 
count; but there was no Confederate force in the field 
except Johnston's men near enough to co-operate with 
Lee; only some small and distant armies, hundreds of 
miles away with the railway communication between them 
and the East destroyed. Sheridan now broke up the rail- 
way and canal communication on the north-west side of 
Richmond. He was to have gone on south and eventually 
joined Sherman if he could; but, finding himself stopped 
for the time by floods in the upper valley of the James, 
he rode past the north of Richmond, and on March 19 
joined Grant, to put his cavalry and brains at his service 
when Grant judged that the moment for his final effort 
had come. 

On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln took office for 
the second time as President of the United States. There 
was one new and striking feature in the simple cere- 
monial, the presence of a battalion of negro troops in his 
escort. This time, though he would say no sanguine 
word, it cannot have been a long continuance of war that 
filled his thoughts, but the scarcely less difficult though 
far happier task of restoring the fabric of peaceful society 
in the conquered South. His difficulties were now likely 
to come from the North no less than the South. Tenta- 
tive proposals which he had once or twice made suggest 
the spirit in which he would have felt his way along this 
new path. In the inaugural address which he now de- 
livered that spirit is none the less perceptible because he 
spoke of the past. The little speech at Gettysburg, with 



THE END 439 

its singular perfection of form, and the " Second Inau- 
gural " are the chief outstanding examples of his peculiar 
oratorical power. The comparative rank of his oratory 
need not be discussed, for at any rate it was individual 
and unlike that of most other great speakers in history, 
though perhaps more like that of some great speeches in 
drama. 

But there is a point of some moment in which the 
Second Inaugural does invite a comment, and a comment 
which should be quite explicit. Probably no other speech 
of a modern statesman uses so unreservedly the language 
of intense religious feeling. The occasion made it nat- 
ural; neither the thought nor the words are in any way 
conventional; no sensible reader now could entertain a 
suspicion that the orator spoke to the heart of the people 
but did not speak from his own heart. But an old Illinois 
attorney, who thought he knew the real Lincoln behind 
the President, might have wondered whether the real 
Lincoln spoke here. For Lincoln's religion, like every- 
thing else in his character, became, when he was famous, 
a stock subject of discussion among his old associates. 
Many said " he was a Christian but did not know it." 
Some hinted, with an air of great sagacity, that u so far 
from his being a Christian or a religious man, the less 
said about it the better." In early manhood he broke 
away for ever from the scheme of Christian theology 
which was probably more or less common to the very 
various Churches which surrounded him. He had avowed 
this sweeping denial with a freedom which pained some 
friends, perhaps rather by its rashness than by its im- 
piety, and he was apt to regard the procedure of theolo- 
gians as a blasphemous twisting of the words of Christ. 
He rejected that belief in miracles and in the literally in- 
spired accuracy of the Bible narrative which was no doubt 
held as fundamental by all these Churches. He rejected 
no less any attempt to substitute for this foundation the 
belief in any priestly authority or in the authority of any 
formal and earthly society called the Church. With this 
total independence of the expressed creeds of his neigh- 



440 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

bours he still went and took his boys to Presbyterian pub- 
lic worship — their mother was an Episcopalian and his 
own parents had been Baptists. He loved the Bible anc* 
knew it intimately — he is said also by the way to have 
stored in his memory a large number of hymns. In the 
year before his death he wrote to Speed: u I am profit- 
ably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this book 
upon reason that you can and the balance upon faith and 
you will live and die a better man." It was not so much 
the Old Testament as the New Testament and what he 
called " the true spirit of Christ " that he loved espe- 
cially, and took with all possible seriousness as the rule 
of life. His theology, in the narrower sense, may be 
said to have been limited to an intense belief in a vast 
and over-ruling Providence — the lighter forms of super- 
stitious feelings which he is known to have had in com- 
mon with most frontiersmen were apparently of no im- 
portance in his life. And this Providence, darkly spoken 
of, was certainly conceived by him as intimately and 
kindly related to his own life. In his Presidential can- 
didature, when he owned to some one that the opposition 
of clergymen hurt him deeply, he is said to have confessed 
to being no Christian and to have continued, " I know that 
there is a God and that He hates injustice and slavery. J 
see the storm coming and I know that His hand is in it 
If He has a place and work for me, and I think He has, 
I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but truth is every 
thing; I know I am right because I know that liberty is 
right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I have 
told them that a house divided against itself cannot stand, 
and Christ and reason say the same, and they will find it 
so." When old acquaintances said that he had no religion 
they based their opinion on such remarks as that the God, 
of whom he had just been speaking solemnly, was " not 
a person." It would be unprofitable to enquire what he, 
and many others, meant by this expression, but, later at 
any rate, this " impersonal " power was one with which 
he could hold commune. His robust intellect, impatient 
of unproved assertion, was unlikely to rest in the com* 



THE END 441 

mon assumption that things dimly seen may be treated as 
not being there. So humorous a man was also unlikely to 
be too conceited to say his prayers. At any rate he said 
them; said them intently; valued the fact that others 
prayed for him and for the nation ; and, as in official Proc- 
lamations (concerning days of national religious observ- 
ance) he could wield, like no other modern writer, the 
language of the Prayer Book, so he would speak of prayer 
without the smallest embarrassment in talk with a gen- 
eral or a statesman. It is possible that this was a devel- 
opment of later years. Lincoln did not, like most of us, 
arrest his growth. To Mrs. Lincoln it seemed that with 
the death of their child, Willie, a change came over his 
whole religious outlook. It well might; and since that 
grief, which came while his troubles were beginning, much 
else had come to Lincoln ; and now through four years of 
unsurpassed trial his capacity had steadily grown, and his 
delicate fairness, his pitifulness, his patience, his modesty 
had grown therewith. Here is one of the few speeches 
ever delivered by a great man at the crisis of his fate on 
the sort of occasion which a tragedian telling his story 
would have devised for him. This man had stood alone 
in the dark. He had done justice; he had loved mercy; 
he had walked humbly with his God. The reader to 
whom religious utterance makes little appeal will not 
suppose that his imaginative words stand for no real ex- 
perience. The reader whose piety knows no questions 
will not be pained to think that this man had professed no 
faith. 

He said, " Fellow Countrymen : At this second ap- 
pearance to take the oath of the Presidential office, there 
is less occasion for an extended address than there was 
at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a 
course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, 
at the expiration of four years, during which public 
declarations have been constantly called forth on every 
point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs 
the energies and engrosses the attention of the nation, 
little that is new could be presented. The progress of 



442 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well 
known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reason- 
ably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope 
for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. 

" On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, 
all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil 
war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the 
inaugural address was being delivered from this place, 
devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, 
insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it 
without war — seeking to dissolve the Union and divide 
effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but 
one of them would make war rather than let the nation 
survive; and the other would accept war rather than let 
it perish. And the war came. 

" One-eighth of the whole population were coloured 
slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but local- 
ised in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted 
a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this 
interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To 
strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the 
object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, 
even by war; while the Government claimed no right to 
do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of 
it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or 
the duration which it has already attained. Neither ex- 
pected that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or 
even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked 
for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and 
astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the 
same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. 
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a 
just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the 
sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we 
be not judged. The prayers of both could not be an- 
swered — that of neither has been answered fully. The 
Almighty has His own purposes. * Woe unto the world 
because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses 
come ; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' 



THE END 443 

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those 
offenses, which, in the providence of God, must needs 
come, but which, having continued through His appointed 
time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both 
North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to 
those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein 
any departure from those divine attributes which the be- 
lievers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly 
do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty 
scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God 
wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the 
bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil 
shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with 
the lash shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, 
as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be 
said, ' The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous 
altogether.' 

" With malice toward none ; with charity for all ; with 
firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let 
us strive on to finish the work we are in ; to bind up the 
nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the 
battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all 
which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace 
among ourselves, and with all nations." 

Lincoln's own commentary may follow upon his speech : 
" March 15, 1865. Dear Mr. Weed, — Every one likes 
a little compliment. Thank you for yours on my little 
notification speech and on the recent inaugural address. 
I expect the latter to wear as well as — perhaps better 
than — anything I have produced; but I believe it is not 
immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being 
shown that there has been a difference of purpose between 
the Almighty and them. To deny it however in this case 
is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is 
a truth which I thought needed to be told, and, as what- 
ever of humiliation there is in it falls most directly on 
myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it. 

" Truly yours, 

"A. Lincoln/' 



444 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

On March 20, 1865, a period of bright sunshine seems 
to have begun in Lincoln's life. Robert Lincoln had some 
time before finished his course at Harvard, and his father 
had written to Grant modestly asking him if he could sug- 
gest the way, accordant with discipline and good example, 
in which the young man could best see something of mili- 
tary life. Grant immediately had him on to his staff, 
with a commission as captain, and now Grant invited 
Lincoln to come to his headquarters for a holiday visit. 
There was much in it besides holiday, for Grant was rap- 
idly maturing his plans for the great event and wanted 
Lincoln near. Moreover Sheridan had just arrived, and 
while Lincoln was there Sherman came from Goldsbor- 
ough with Admiral Porter for consultation as to Sher- 
man's next move. Peremptory as he was in any necessary 
political instructions, Lincoln was now happy to say noth- 
ing of military matters, beyond expressing his earnest 
desire that the final overmastering of the Confederate 
armies should be accomplished with the least further 
bloodshed possible, and indulging the curiosity that any 
other guest might have shown. A letter home to Mrs. 
Lincoln betrays the interest with which he heard heavy 
firing quite near, which seemed to him a great battle, but 
did not excite those who knew. Then there were rides in 
the country with Grant's staff. Lincoln in his tall hat and 
frock coat was a marked and curious figure on a horse. 
He had once, by the way, insisted on riding with Butler, 
catechising him with remorseless chaff on engineering 
matters and forbidding his chief engineer to prompt him, 
along six miles of cheering Northern troops within easy 
sight and shot of the Confederate soldiers to whom his 
hat and coat identified him. But, however odd a figure, 
he impressed Grant's officers as a good and bold horse- 
man. Then, after Sherman's arrival, there evidently was 
no end of talk. Sherman was at first amused by the Pres- 
ident's anxiety as to whether his army was quite safe 
without him at Goldsborough; but that keen-witted soi* 
dier soon received, as he has said, an impression both of 



THE END 445 

goodness and of greatness such as no other man ever 
gave him. 

What especially remained on Sherman's and on 
Porter's mind was the recollection of Lincoln's over- 
powering desire for mercy and for conciliation with the 
conquered. Indeed Sherman blundered later in the terms 
he first accepted from Johnston; for he did not see that 
Lincoln's clemency for Southern leaders and desire for 
the welfare of the South included no mercy at all for the 
political principle of the Confederacy. Grant was not 
exposed to any such mistake, for a week or two before 
Lee had made overtures to him for some sort of confer- 
ence and Lincoln had instantly forbidden him to confer 
with Lee for any purpose but that of his unconditional 
surrender. What, apart from the reconstruction of 
Southern life and institutions, was in part weighing with 
Lincoln was the question of punishments for rebellion. 
By Act of Congress the holders of high political and mili- 
tary office in the South were liable as traitors, and there 
was now talk of hanging in the North. Later events 
showed that a very different sentiment would make itself 
heard when the victory came ; but Lincoln was much con- 
cerned. To some one who spoke to him of this matter 
he exclaimed, " What have I to do with you, ye sons of 
Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me ? 
Shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? " 
There can be no doubt that the prerogative of mercy 
would have been vigorously used in his hands, but he did 
not wish for a conflict on this matter at all; and Grant 
was taught, in a parable about a teetotal Irishman who 
forgave being served with liquor unbeknownst to himself, 
that zeal in capturing Jefferson Davis and his colleagues 
was not expected of him. 

While Lincoln was at Grant's headquarters at City 
Point, Lee, hoping to recover the use of the roads to the 
south-west, endeavoured to cause a diversion of the be- 
siegers' strength by a sortie on his east front. It failed 
and gave the besiegers a further point of vantage. On 
April i Sheridan was sent far round the south of Lee's 



446 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

lines, and in a battle at a point called Five Forks estab- 
lished himself in possession of the railway running due 
west from Petersburg. The defences were weakest on 
this side, and to prevent the entrance of the enemy there 
Lee was bound to withdraw troops from other quarters. 
On the two following days Grant's army delivered 
assaults at several points on the east side of the Peters- 
burg defences, penetrating the outer lines and pushing on 
against the inner fortifications of the town. On Sunday, 
April 2, Jefferson Davis received in church word from 
Lee to make instant preparation for departure, as Peters- 
burg could not be held beyond that night and Richmond 
must fall immediately. That night the Confederate Gov- 
ernment left the capital, and Lee's evacuation of the 
fortress began the next day. Lincoln was sent for. He 
came by sea, and to the astonishment and alarm of the 
naval officers made his way at once to Richmond with 
entirely insufficient escort. There he strolled about, hand 
in hand with his little son Tad, greeted by exultant ne-. 
groes, and stared at by angry or curious Confederates, 
while he visited the former prison of the Northern pris- 
oners and other places of more pleasant attraction with- 
out receiving any annoyance from the inhabitants. He 
had an interesting talk with Campbell, formerly a 
Supreme Court judge, and a few weeks back one of 
Davis' commissioners at Hampton Roads. Campbell 
obtained permission to convene a meeting of the members 
of the Virginia Legislature with a view to speedier sun. 
render by Lee's army. But the permission was revoked, 
for he somewhat clumsily mistook its terms, and, more- 
over, the object in view had meantime been accomplished. 
Jefferson Davis was then making his way with his min- 
isters to Johnston's army. When they arrived he and 
they held council with Johnston and Beauregard. He 
would issue a Proclamation which would raise him many 
soldiers and he would " whip them yet." No one an- 
swered him. At last he asked the opinion of Johnston, 
who bluntly undeceived him as to facts, and told him that 
further resistance would be a crime, and got his permis- 



THE END 447 

sion to treat with Sherman, while the fallen Confederate 
President escaped further south. 

Lee's object was to make his way along the north side 
of the Appomattox River, which flows east through Pet- 
ersburg to the James estuary, and at a certain point strike 
southwards towards Johnston's army. He fought for his 
escape with all his old daring and skill, while hardly less 
vigorous and skilful efforts were made not only to pur- 
sue, but to surround him. Grant in his pursuit sent 
letters of courteous entreaty that he would surrender and 
spare further slaughter. Northern cavalry got ahead of 
Lee, tearing up the railway lines he had hoped to use and 
blocking possible mountain passes; and his supply trains 
were being cut off. After a long running fight and one 
last fierce battle on April 6, at a place called Sailor's 
Creek, Lee found himself on April 9 at Appomattox 
Court House, some seventy miles west of Petersburg, sur- 
rounded beyond hope of escape. On that day he and 
Grant with their staffs met in a neighbouring farmhouse. 
Those present recalled afterwards the contrast of the 
stately Lee and the plain, ill-dressed Grant arriving mud- 
splashed in his haste. Lee greeted Meade as an old ac- 
quaintance and remarked how grey he had grown with 
years. Meade gracefully replied that Lee and not age 
was responsible for that. Grant had started " quite jubi- 
lant " on the news that Lee was ready to surrender, but 
in presence of " the downfall of a foe who had fought so 
long and valiantly " he fell into sadness. Pleasant " talk 
of old army times " followed, and he had almost for- 
gotten, as he declares, the business in hand, when Lee 
asked him on what terms he would accept surrender. 
Grant sat down and wrote, not knowing when he began 
what he should go on to write. As he wrote he thought 
of the handsome sword Lee carried. Instantly he added 
to his terms permission for every Southern officer to keep 
his sword and his horse. Lee read the paper and when 
he came to that point was visibly moved. He gauged his 
man, and he ventured to ask something more. He 
thought, he said, Grant might not know that the Confed- 



448 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

erate cavalry troopers owned their own horses. Grant 
said they would be badly wanted on the farms and added 
a further concession accordingly. " This will have the 
best possible effect on the men," said Lee. " It will do 
much towards conciliating our people." Grant included 
also in his written terms words of general pardon to Con- 
federate officers for their treason. This was an inad- 
vertent breach, perhaps, of Lincoln's orders, but it was 
one which met with no objection. Lee retired into civil 
life and devoted himself thereafter to his neighbours' 
service as head of a college in Virginia — much respected, 
very free with alms to old soldiers and not much caring 
whether they had fought for the South or for the North. 
Grant did not wait to set foot in the capital which he had 
conquered, but, the main business being over, posted off 
with all haste to see his son settled in at school. 

Lincoln remained at City Point till April 8, when he 
started back by steamer. Those who were with him on 
the two days' voyage told afterwards of the happy talk, 
as of a quiet family party rejoicing in the return of peace. 
Somebody said that Jefferson Davis really ought to be 
hanged. The reply came in the quotation that he might 
almost have expected, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." 
On the second day, Sunday, the President read to them 
parts of " Macbeth." Sumner, who was one of them, re- 
called that he read twice over the lines, 

" Duncan is in his grave ; 
After life's fitful fever he sleeps well ; 
Treason has done his worst ; nor steel, nor poison, 
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing 
Can touch him further." 

On the Tuesday, April n, a triumphant crowd came 
to the White House to greet Lincoln. He made them a 
speech, carefully prepared in substance rather than in 
form, dealing with the question of reconstruction in the 
South, with special reference to what was already in 
progress in Louisiana. The precise points of controversy 
that arose in this regard hardly matter now. Lincoln dis- 



THE END 449 

claimed any wish to insist pedantically upon any detailed 
plan of his; but he declared his wish equally to keep clear 
of any merely pedantic points of controversy with any in 
the South who were loyally striving to revive State Gov- 
ernment with acceptance of the Union and without 
slavery; and he urged that genuine though small begin- 
nings should be encouraged. He regretted that in Louis- 
iana his wish for the enfranchisement of educated negroes 
and of negro soldiers had not been followed; but as the 
freedom of the negroes was unreservedly accepted, as 
provision was made for them in the public schools, and 
the new State constitution allowed the Legislature to en- 
franchise them, there was clear gain. " Concede that the 
new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be 
as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by 
hatching the egg than by smashing it. What has been 
said of Louisiana will apply generally to other States. So 
new and unprecedented," he ended, " is the whole case 
that no exclusive and inflexible plan can safely be pre- 
scribed as to details and collaterals. Such exclusive and 
inflexible plan would surely become a new entanglement. 
Important principles may and must be inflexible. In the 
present situation, as the phrase goes, it may be my duty 
to make some new announcement to the people of the 
South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act when 
satisfied that action will be proper." A full generation 
has had cause to lament that that announcement was never 
to be made. 

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, with solemn religious 
service the Union flag was hoisted again on Fort Sumter 
by General Anderson, its old defender. On that morning 
there was a Cabinet Council in Washington. Seward was 
absent, in bed with an injury from a carriage accident. 
Grant was there a little anxious to get news from Sher- 
man. Lincoln was in a happy mood. He had earlier that 
morning enjoyed greatly a talk with Robert Lincoln about 
the young man's new experience of soldiering. He now 
told Grant and the Cabinet that good news was coming 
from Sherman. He knew it, he said, for last night he had 



450 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

dreamed a dream, which had come to him several times 
before. In this dream, whenever it came, he was sailing 
in a ship of a peculiar build, indescribable but always the 
same, and being borne on it with great speed towards a 
dark and undefined shore. He had always dreamed this 
before victory. He dreamed it before Antietam, before 
Murfreesborough, before Gettysburg, before Vicksburg. 
Grant observed bluntly that Murfreesborough had not 
been a victory, or of any consequence anyway. Lincoln 
persisted on this topic undeterred. After some lesser 
business they discussed the reconstruction of the South. 
Lincoln rejoiced that Congress had adjourned and the 
" disturbing element " in it could not hinder the work. 
Before it met again, " if we are wise and discreet we 
shall re-animate the States and get their governments in 
successful operation, with order prevailing and the Union 
re-established." Lastly, there was talk of the treatment 
of rebels and of the demand that had been heard for 
" persecution " and " bloody work." " No one need ex- 
pect me," said Lincoln, " to take any part in hanging or 
killing these men, even the worst of them. Frighten 
them out of the country, open the gates, let down the 
bars, scare them off." " Shoo," he added, throwing up 
his large hands like a man scaring sheep. " We must 
extinguish our resentments if we expect harmony and 
union. There is too much of the desire on the part of 
some of our very good friends to be masters, to interfere 
with and dictate to those States, to treat the people not as 
fellow citizens; there is too little respect for their rights. 
I do not sympathise in these feelings." Such was the 
tenor of his last .recorded utterance on public affairs. 

In the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln drove together 
and he talked to her with keen pleasure of the life they 
would live when the Presidency was over. That night 
Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln went to the theatre, for the day 
was not observed as in England. The Grants were to 
have been with them, but changed their minds and left 
Washington that day, so a young officer, Major Rath- 
bone, and the lady engaged to him, both of them there- 



THE END 451 

after ill-fated, came instead. The theatre was crowded; 
many officers returned from the war were there and eager 
to see Lincoln. The play was " Our American Cousin," 
a play in which the part of Lord Dundreary was after- 
wards developed and made famous. Some time after 10 
o'clock, at a point in the play which it is said no person 
present could afterwards remember, a shot was heard in 
the theatre and Abraham Lincoln fell forward upon the 
front of the box unconscious and dying. A wild-looking 
man, who had entered the box unobserved and had done 
his work, was seen to strike with a knife at Major Rath- 
bone, who tried to seize him. Then he jumped from the 
box to the stage ; he caught a spur in the drapery and fell, 
breaking the small bone of his leg. He rose, shouted 
" Sic semper tyrannis," the motto of Virginia, disap- 
peared behind the scenes, mounted a horse that was in 
waiting at the stage door, and rode away. 

This was John Wilkes Booth, brother of a famous 
actor then playing u Hamlet " in Boston. He was an 
actor too, and an athletic and daring youth. In him that 
peculiarly ferocious political passion which occasionally 
showed itself among Southerners was further inflamed 
by brandy and by that ranting mode of thought which 
the stage develops in some few. He was the leader of a 
conspiracy which aimed at compassing the deaths of 
others besides Lincoln. Andrew Johnson, the Vice-Presi- 
dent, was to die. So was Seward. That same night one 
of the conspirators, a gigantic boy of feeble mind, gained 
entrance to Seward's house and wounded three people, 
including Seward himself, who was lying already injured 
in bed and received four or five wounds. Neither he nor 
the others died. The weak-minded or mad boy, another 
man, whose offense consisted in having been asked to kill 
Johnson and refused to do so, and another alleged con- 
spirator, a woman, were hanged after a court-martial 
whose proceedings did credit neither to the new Presi- 
dent nor to others concerned. Booth himself, after many 
adventures, was shot in a barn in which he stood at bay 
and which had been set on fire by the soldiers pursuing 



452 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

him. During his flight he is said to have felt much ag« 
grieved that men did not praise him as they had praised 
Brutus and Cassius. 

There were then in the South many broken and many 
permanently embittered men, indeed the temper which 
would be glad at Lincoln's death could be found here and 
there and notably among the partisans of the South in 
Washington. But, if it be wondered what measure of 
sympathy there was for Booth's dark deed, an answer lies 
in the fact that the murder of Lincoln would at no time 
have been difficult for a brave man. Fair blows were now 
as powerless as foul to arrest the end. On the very morn- 
ing when Lincoln and Grant at the Cabinet had been tell- 
ing of their hopes and fears for Sherman, Sherman him- 
self at Raleigh in North Carolina had received and an- 
swered a letter from Johnston opening negotiations for a 
peaceful surrender. Three days later he was starting by 
rail for Greensborough when word came to him from 
the telegraph operator that an important message was 
upon the wire. He went to the telegraph box and heard 
it. Then he swore the telegraph operator to secrecy, for 
he feared that some provocation might lead to terrible 
disorders in Raleigh, if his army, flushed with triumph, 
were to learn, before his return in peace, the news that 
for many days after hushed their accustomed songs and 
shouts and cheering into a silence which was long remem- 
bered. He went off to meet Johnston and requested to 
be with him alone in a farmhouse near. There he told 
him of the murder of Lincoln. " The perspiration came 
out in large drops on Johnston's forehead," says Sher- 
man, who watched him closely. He exclaimed that it was 
a disgrace to the age. Then he asked to know whether 
Sherman attributed the crime to the Confederate author- 
ities. Sherman could assure him that no one dreamed of 
such a suspicion against men like him and General Lee; 
but he added that he was not so sure of " Jefferson Davis 
and men of that stripe." Then followed some delay, 
through a mistake of Sherman's which the authorities in 
Washington reversed, but in a few days all was settled 



THE END 453 

and the whole of the forces under Johnston's command 
laid down their arms. Twenty years later, as an old man 
and infirm, their leader left his Southern home to be pres- 
ent at Sherman's funeral, where he caught a chill from 
which he died soon after. Jefferson Davis was captured 
on May 10, near the borders of Florida. He was, not 
without plausible grounds but quite unjustly, suspected in 
regard to the murder, and he suffered imprisonment for 
some time till President Andrew Johnson released him 
when the evidence against him had been seen to be worth- 
less. He lived many years in Mississippi and wrote 
memoirs, in which may be found the fullest legal argu- 
ment for the great Secession, his own view of his quarrels 
with Joseph Johnston, and much besides. Amongst other 
things he tells how when they heard the news of Lincoln's 
murder some troops cheered, but he was truly sorry for 
the reason that Andrew Johnson was more hostile to the 
cause than Lincoln. It is disappointing to think, of one 
who played a memorable part in history with much deter- 
mination, that in this reminiscence he sized his stature as 
a man fairly accurately. After several other surrenders 
of Southern towns and small scattered forces, the Con- 
federate General Kirby Smith, in Texas, surrendered to 
General Canby, Banks' successor, on May 26, and after 
four years and forty-four days armed resistance to the 
Union was at an end. 

On the night of Good Friday, Abraham Lincoln had 
been carried still unconscious to a house near the theatre. 
His sons and other friends were summoned. He never 
regained consciousness. U A look of unspeakable peace," 
say his secretaries who were there, " came over his worn 
features." At 7.22 on the morning of April 15, Stanton, 
watching him more closely than the rest, told them what 
had passed in the words, " Now he belongs to the ages." 

The mourning of a nation, voiced to later times by 
some of the best lines of more than one of its poets, and 
deeper and more prevailing for the lack of comprehen- 
sion which some had shown him before, followed his body 
in its slow progress — stopping at Baltimore, where once 



454 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

his life had been threatened, for the homage of vast 
crowds; stopping at New York, where among the huge 
assembly old General Scott came to bid him affectionate 
farewell; stopping at other cities for the tribute of rev- 
erent multitudes — to Springfield, his home of so many 
years, where, on May 4, 1865, it was laid to rest. After 
the burial service the " Second Inaugural " was read over 
his grave, nor could better words than his own have been 
chosen to honour one who " with malice toward none, 
with charity toward all, with firmness in the right as God 
gave him to see the right, had striven on to finish the 
work that he was in." In England, apart from more 
formal tokens of a late-learnt regard and an unfeigned 
regret, Punch embodied in verse of rare felicity the manly 
contrition of its editor for ignorant derision in past years; 
and Queen Victoria symbolised best of all, and most ac- 
ceptably to Americans, the feeling of her people when she 
wrote to Mrs. Lincoln " as a widow to a widow." Nor, 
though the transactions in which he bore his part were 
but little understood in this country till they were half 
forgotten, has tradition ever failed to give him, by just in- 
stinct, his rank with the greatest of our race. 

Many great deeds had been done in the war. The 
greatest was the keeping of the North together in an en- 
terprise so arduous, and an enterprise for objects so con- 
fusedly related as the Union and freedom. Abraham 
Lincoln did this; nobody else could have done it; to do 
it he bore on his sole shoulders such a weight of care and 
pain as few other men have borne. When it was over it 
seemed to the people that he had all along been thinking 
their real thoughts for them; but they knew that this was 
because he had fearlessly thought for himself. He had 
been able to save the nation, partly because he saw that 
unity was not to be sought by the way of base concession. 
He had been able to free the slaves, partly because he 
would not hasten to this object at the sacrifice of what 
he thought a larger purpose. This most unrelenting 
enemy to the project of the Confederacy was the one 
man who had quite purged his heart and mind from 



THE END 455 

hatred or even anger towards his fellow-countrymen of 
the South. That fact came to be seen in the South too, 
and generations in America are likely to remember it 
when all other features of his statecraft have grown in- 
distinct. A thousand reminiscences ludicrous or pathetic, 
passing into myth but enshrining hard fact, will prove to 
them that this great feature of his policy was a matter of 
more than policy. They will remember it as adding a 
peculiar lustre to the renovation of their national exist- 
ence; as no small part of the glory, surpassing that of 
former wars, which has become the common heritage of 
North and South. For perhaps not many conquerors, and 
certainly few successful statesmen, have escaped the tend- 
ency of power to harden or at least to narrow their hu- 
man sympathies; but in this man a natural wealth of 
tender compassion became richer and more tender while 
in the stress of deadly conflict he developed an astounding 
strength. 

Beyond his own country some of us recall his name as 
the greatest among those associated with the cause of 
popular government. He would have liked this tribute, 
and the element of truth in it is plain enough, yet it de- 
mands one final consideration. He accepted the institu- 
tions to which he was born, and he enjoyed them. His 
own intense experience of the weakness of democracy did 
not sour him, nor would any similar experience of later 
times have been likely to do so. Yet if he reflected much 
on forms of government it was with a dominant interest 
in something beyond them. For he was a citizen of that 
far country where there is neither aristocrat nor demo- 
crat. No political theory stands out from his words or 
actions; but they show a most unusual sense of the possi- 
ble dignity of common men and common things. His 
humour rioted in comparisons between potent personages 
and Jim Jett's brother or old Judge Brown's drunken 
coachman, for the reason for which the rarely jesting 
Wordsworth found a hero in the " Leech-Gatherer " or 
in Nelson and a villain in Napoleon or in Peter Bell. He 
could use and respect and pardon and overrule his far 



456 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

more accomplished ministers because he stood up to them 
with no more fear or cringing, with no more dislike or 
envy or disrespect than he had felt when he stood up long 
before to Jack Armstrong. He faced the difficulties and 
terrors of his high office with that same mind with which 
he had paid his way as a poor man or navigated a boat 
in rapids or in floods. If he had a theory of democracy it 
was contained in this condensed note which he wrote, per- 
haps as an autograph, a year or two before his Presi- 
dency : "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a 
master. This expresses my idea of democracy. What- 
ever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is n<s 
democracy. — A. Lincoln." 



APPENDIX 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

A complete bibliography of books dealing specially 
with Lincoln, and of books throwing important light upon 
his life or upon the history of the American Civil War, 
cannot be attempted here. The author aims only at men- 
tioning the books which have been of greatest use to him 
and a few others to which reference ought obviously to 
be made. 

The chief authorities for the life of Lincoln are : — 

"Abraham Lincoln: A History," by John G. Nicolay 
and John Hay (his private secretaries), in ten volumes: 
The Century Company, New York, and T. Fisher Unwin, 
London; " The Works of Abraham Lincoln" (i.e., 
speeches, letters, and State papers), in eight volumes: G. 
Putnam's Sons, London and New York; and, for his early 
life, " The Life of Abraham Lincoln," by Herndon and 
Weik : Appleton, London and New York. 

There are numerous short biographies of Lincoln, but 
among these it is not invidious to mention as the best 
(expressing as it does the mature judgment of the highest 
authority) "A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln," by John 
G. Nicolay: The Century Company, New York. 

The author may be allowed to refer, moreover, to the 
interest aroused in him as a boy by "Abraham Lincoln," 
by C. G. Leland, in the " New Plutarch Series " : Marcus 
Ward & Co., London; and to the light he has much later 
derived from "Abraham Lincoln," by John T. Morse, 
Junior: Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 

Among studies of Lincoln, containing a wealth of illus- 
trative stories, a very high place is due to " The True 
Abraham Lincoln," by William Eleroy Curtis: The J. B. 
Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and London. 

For the history of America at the period concerned the 
reader may be most confidently referred to a work, which 

4*7 



458 ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

by plentiful extracts and citations enables its writer's judg- 
ment to be checked, without detracting from the interest 
and power of his narrative, namely, " History of the 
United States, 1850 — 1877," by James Ford Rhodes, in 
seven volumes: The Macmillan Company, London and 
New York. 

Among the shorter complete histories of the United 
States are : " The United States : an Outline of Political 
History," by Goldwin Smith: The Macmillan Company, 
London and New York; the article "United States of 
America 15 (section "History") in the "Encyclopaedia 
Britannica " (see also the many excellent articles on 
American biography in the " Encyclopaedia Britannica ") ; 
" The Cambridge Modern History : Vol. VII., United 
States of America " : Cambridge University Press, and 
The Macmillan Company, New York. 

Two volumes of special interest in regard to the early 
days of the United States, in some ways complementary 
to each other in their different points of view, are: 
"Alexander Hamilton," by F. G. Oliver: Constable & Co., 
and " Historical Essays," by John Fitch. 

Almost every point in regard to American institutions 
and political practice is fully treated in " The American 
Commonwealth," by Viscount Bryce, O.M., two volumes: 
The Macmillan Company, London and New York. 

For the attitude of the British Government during the 
war the conclusive authority is the correspondence to be 
found in " The Life of Lord John Russell," by Sir 
Spencer Walpole, K.C.B., two volumes: Longmans, 
Green & Co., London and New York; and light on the 
attitude of the English people is thrown by " The Life of 
John Bright," by G. M. Trevelyan: Constable, London, 
and Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 

With respect to the military history of the Civil War 
the author is specially indebted to " The Civil War in the 
United States," by W. Birkbeck Wood and Major J. E. 
Edmonds, R.E., with an introduction by Spenser Wilkin- 
son: Methuen & Co., London, and Putnam, New York, 
which is the only concise and complete history of the war 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 459 

written with full knowledge of all recent works bearing 
on the subject. Mr. Nicolay's chapters in the u Cambridge 
Modern History " give a very lucid narrative of the war. 

Among works of special interest bearing on the war, 
though not much concerning the subject of this book, it 
is only necessary to mention " ' Stonewall ' Jackson," by 
Colonel Henderson, C.B., two volumes: Longmans, 
London and New York; u Battles and Leaders of the 
Civil War " (a book of monographs by several authors, 
many of them actors in the war), four volumes: T. 
Fisher Unwin, London, and Century Company, New 
York, and " Story of the Civil War," by J. C. Ropes: 
Putnam, London and New York. 

It may be added that a life of General Robert E. Lee 
had been projected, as a companion volume to this in the 
same series, by Brigadier-General Frederick Maurice, 
C.B., and it is to be hoped that, though suspended by the 
present war, this book may still be written. Existing biog- 
raphies of Lee are disappointing. It has been (especially 
in view of this intended book on Lee) outside the scope 
of this volume to present the history of the Civil War 
with special reference to the Southern actors in it, but 
" Memoirs of Jefferson Davis " must be here referred to 
as in some sense an authoritative, though not a very at- 
tractive or interesting, exposition of the views of Southern 
statesmen at the time. 

An interesting sidelight on the war may be found in 
" Life with the Confederate Army," by Watson, being 
the experiences of a Scotchman who for a time served 
under the Confederacy. 

In regard to slavery and to Southern society before the 
war the author has made much use of " Our Slave States," 
by Frederick Law Olmsted: Dix and Edwards, New 
York, 1856, and other works of the same author. Mr. 
Olmsted was a Northerner, but his very full observations 
can be checked by the numerous quotations on the same 
subject collected by Mr. Rhodes in his history. 

For the history of the South since the war and the 
present position of the negroes, see the chapters on this 



4 6o ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

subject in Bryce's "American Commonwealth," second or 
any later edition, two volumes : Macmillan, London and 
New York. 

Mr. Owen Wister's novel, " Lady Baltimore " : Mac- 
millan, London and New York, embraces a most interest- 
ing study of the survivals of the old Southern society at the 
present time and of the present relations between it and 
the North. 

The treatment of the negroes freed during the war is 
the main subject of " Grant, Lincoln and the Freedmen," 
by John Eaton and E. O. Mason: Longmans, Green & 
Co., London and New York, a book to which the author 
is also indebted for other interesting matter. 

The personal memoirs, and especially the autobiog- 
raphies dealing with the Civil War, are very numerous, 
and the author therefore would only wish to mention 
those which seem to him of altogether unusual interest. 
" Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant " : Century 
Company, New York, is a book of very high order (Sher- 
man's memoirs: Appleton, New York, and his corre- 
spondence with his brother: Scribner, New York, have 
also been quoted in these pages). 

Great interest both in regard to Lincoln personally and 
to the history of the United States after his death at- 
taches to u Reminiscences," by Carl Schurz, three volumes 
(Vol. I. being concerned with Germany in 1848) : John 
Murray, London, and Doubleday Page, New York, and 
to " The Life of John Hay," by W. R. Thayer, two vol- 
umes: Constable & Co., London, and Houghton Mifflin 
Company, Boston, U.S.A. 

The author has derived much light from " Specimen 
Days, and Collect," by Walt Whitman: Wilson and Mc- 
Cormick, Glasgow, and McKay, U.S.A. 

He may be allowed, in conclusion, to mention the en- 
couragement given to him in beginning his work by the 
late Mr. Henry James, O.M., whose vivid and enthusi- 
astic judgment of Lincoln he had the privilege of re- 
ceiving. 



CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE 



Some events in History of United Some events in English and Gen- 
States, eral History. 



1759. Capture of Quebec 



1765. Stamp Act passed. 
1776. Declaration of Independ- 
ence. 



1783. American Independence rec- 
ognised. 

1787. Constitution framed. 

North West Territory ceded 
by States to Congress and 
slavery excluded from it 

1789. Constitution comes into force. 

1793. Eli Whitney invents cotton 
gin. 



1799. Death of Washington. 



1803. 
1804. 



1807. 

1808. 



1809. 
18 12- 



1820. 
1823. 



Louisiana purchase. 
Death of Hamilton. 



Abraham Lincoln born. 

-1814. War with Great Brit- 
ain. 

Missouri Compromise. 
Monroe doctrine declared. 



1759. 
1757- 

1760. 
1764- 

1765. 
1776. 

1778. 
1782. 



Capture of Quebec. 
-60. Ministry of Chatham 
(William Pitt). 
Contrat Social published. 
-76. Great inventions in spin- 
ning industries. 
Watt's steam engine. 
Publication of "Wealth of 

Nations." 
Death of Chatham. 
Rodney's victory. 



1789. 
1793- 

1794. 



j 802. 
1803. 

1805. 
1806. 



Fulton's steam-boat on Hud- 1807. 

son. 
Slave Trade abolished by 1808. 

U. S. A. 



1809. 



Meeting of States General. 
England at war with French 

Republic. 
Slave Trade abolished by 

French Convention. 

Peace of Amiens. 

England at war with Na- 
poleon. 

Trafalgar. 

The American Fulton's 
steam-boat on Seine. 

Slave Trade abolished by 
Great Britain. 

Battle of Vimiera. Con- 
vention of Cintra. 

Wordsworth's literary activ- 
ity about at its culmina- 
tion. 

Darwin, Tennyson, and 
Gladstone born. 



18 1 5. Waterloo. 



1825. First railway opened 10 
England. 



461 



462 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN 



Some events in History of United Some events in English and Gen- 
States, eral History. 



1826. Death of Jefferson. 



1828. Commencement of "nullifi- 
cation " movement. 
Election of Jackson. 

1830. Hayne- Webster debate. 

1831. Garrison publishes first 

number of Liberator. 
Lincoln starts life in New 

Salem. 
First railway opened in 

America. 



1834. Lincoln elected to Illinois 

legislature. 
1837. End of Jackson's second 

presidency. 



1841. First telegraph in America. 

1842. Lincoln leaves Illinois leg- 

islature, and (Nov.) is 
married. 

1845. Annexation of Texas. 

1846. Boundary of Oregon and 

British Columbia settled 
with Great Britain. 
1846-7. Mexican War. 
1847-8. Lincoln in Congress. 
1848. Gold discovery in Cali- 
fornia. 
Clay's compromise adopted. 
Death of Caiham. 
Deaths of Clay and Web- 
ster. 

Missouri Compromise re- 
pealed. 
Republican Party formed. 



1850. 
1852. 
1854. 



1826. Independence of Mexico and 

Spanish Colonies in South 
America recognised by 
Canning. 

1827. Navarino. 



1829. Catholic emancipation. 

183 1. Mazzini founds Young 
Italy. 



1832. First Reform Bill. 

1833. Slavery abolished in Brit- 

ish Colonies. 

1836—40. Great Boer Trek. 

1837. Queen Victoria's accession. 
First steam-boat from Eng- 
land to America. 

1838. First telegraph line in Eng- 

land. 

1839. Lord Durham's report on 

Canada. 



1844. "Martin Chuzzlewit" pub- 
lished. 

X846. Boundary of Oregon and 
British Columbia settled 
with U. S. A. 

1846-7. Irish famine. 

1848. Revolution in France and 
in many parts of Europe. 

1850. Constitution Act for Aus- 
tralian colonies. 

1852. Constitution Act for New 
Zealand. 

1854-5. Gold rush to Australia. 

Crimean War. 
1854-6. Abolition of slavery 1 in 
various Portuguese Do- 
minions. 



CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE 



463 



Some events in History of United 
States. 

1856. Defeat of Fremont by Bu- 

chanan. 

1857. Dred Scott case. 

1858. Kansas. Lincoln-Douglas de- 

bate. 

1859. John Brown's raid. 



i860. Nov. Lincoln elected Presi- 
dent. 
Dec. Secession carried in 
South Carolina. 

1 861. Feb. 4. Southern Confed- 

eracy formed. 

Mar. 4. Lincoln inaugu- 
rated. 

Ap. 12—14. Bombardment 
of Fort Sumter. 

Ap. War begins. Further 
secessions. 

July. First Battle of Bull 
Run. 

Dec. Claim of Great Brit- 
ain as to Trent ac- 
cepted. 

1862. Ap. — Aug. McClellan in 

Peninsula. 

Ap. Shiloh. 

May. Jackson in Shenan- 
doah Valley. 

Aug. — Oct. Confederates in 
Kentucky. 

Aug. Second Battle of Bull 
Run. 

Sept. Antietam. Proclama- 
tion of emancipation. 

Nov. McClellan removed. 

Dec. Fredericksburg. Mur- 
freesborough. 

1863. Mar. 1. Conscription Act. 
May. Chancellorsville. 

Jackson killed. 
July. Gettysburg, Vicks- 

burg. New York riots. 
Sept. Chickamauga. 
Nov. Gettysburg speech. 

Chattanooga. 

1864. May. Beginning of Grant's 

and Sherman's great cam- 
paigns. 



Some events in English and Gen- 
eral History. 



1857-8. Indian Mutiny. 



1859. Publication of " Origin of 

Species." 
1859-60. Kingdom of Italy formed. 
i860. Slavery abolished in Dutch 

East Indies. 



1861. Emancipation of Russian 
serfs. 



1862. Alabama escapes from the 
Mersey (July). 



1863. 



Revolution in Poland. 
Maximilian proclaimed Em- 
peror of Mexico. 



1864. 



Prussia and Austria invade 
Denmark. 



464 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN 



Some events in History of United 
States. 

1S64. June. Cold Harbour. Bal- 
timore Convention. 

July. Early's raid reaches 
Washington. 

Aug. Mobile. Chicago Con- 
vention. 

Sept. Sherman at Atlanta. 
Sheridan in Shenandoah 
Valley. 

Nov. Lincoln re-elected Pres- 
ident. 

Dec. Nashville. Sherman 
at Savannah. 
i86|. Jan. Congress passes 13th 
Amendment. 

Feb. Further progress of 
Sherman and Sheridan. 

Mar. 4. Second inaugura- 
tion of Lincoln. 

Ap. 2 — 9. Richmond falls, 
and Lee surrenders. 

Ap. 14 — 15. Lincoln assas- 
sinated and dies. 

Dec. 13. Amendment rati- 
fied. 
1866. Atlantic cable successfully 
laid. 



Some events in English and Gen- 
eral History, 



1868. Rise of acute disorder in 
" reconstructed " South. 

1870. Amendment securing negro 
suffrage. 

1872. Alabama arbitration with 
Great Britain. 



1876. Admitted failure of Recon- 

struction. Election of 
Hayes. 

1877. Federal troops withdrawn 

from South. 



1866. Atlantic cable successfully 

laid. 
War between Austria and 
Prussia. 

1867. British North America Act. 
Slave children emancipated 

in Brazil. 
Fall and execution of Max- 
imilian in Mexico. 

1868. Mikado resumes govern- 

ment in Japan. 

1870. Papal infallibility. Franco- 
German War. 

1872. Alabama arbitration with 
U. S. A. 
Responsible Government in 
Cape Colony. 



1878. Slavery abolished in Cuba 
(last of Spanish Colo- 
nies). 



INDEX 

Abolition and Abolitionists: Early movement dies down, 36-9; rise of 
later movement, 50-2; persecuted, 51, 76; Lincoln's attitude, 76, 
101, 116, 126-7, 151; their position in view of civil war, 172. See 
Slavery and Garrison. 

Adams, Charles Francis: 236, 262, 264, 328. 

Adams, John: 37, 236. 

Adams, John Quincy: 47, 51, 115, 314, 388. 

Aesop: 10. 

Alabama, the: 224, 251, 264. 

Alabama State: 175, 199, 212, 361, 388. 

Alamo, the: 91. 

Alexander II. of Russia: 256. 

Alleghany (or Appalachian) Mountains: 26, 225, 244; distinct character 
of people in them, 56, 198. 

Alley: 429. 

Alton: 76. 

Amendment of Constitution: how carried, 24; suggested amendment to 
conciliate South, 192; Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery, 
335-7, 431, 433; Fifteenth Amendment requiring negro suffrage, 
334-5- 

America, United States of, and American: Diverse character of Colonies, 
resemblances to and differences from England, 16-20; first attempt 
at Union, 20; independence and making of Constitution, 21-3; fea- 
tures of Constitution, 23-5; expansion, 26-8; Union Government 
brought into effect, 28-30, 41 ; rise of national tradition, 30-5 ; com- 
promise on main cause of disunion, slavery, 35-40; parties and 
tendencies in the first half of nineteenth century, 40-52; triumph of 
Union sentiment, 45-6; growth of separate interest and sentiment 
in South, 43-5, 52-9; intellectual development and foundations of 
American patriotism, 59-61 ; further compromise on slavery, 96- 
101 ; political cleavage of North and South becomes definite, 109- 
12; "a house divided against itself," 143-7; f° r further develop- 
ments, see North and South; see also Lincoln; Lincoln's position as 
to enforcement of union, 143-4; common heritage of America from 
Civil War, 455. 

American Party, or Know-Nothings : 112, 11 7-8. 

American Policy (so-called) : 42-8. 

Anderson, Major: 189-90, 208, 212-3, 449. 

Appalachians. See Alleghany Mountains. 

Appomattox River and Court House: 447. 

Arbitration: 263-4. 

465 



466 INDEX 

Argyll, Duke of: 176, 260. 

Arizona: 96. 

Arkansas River: 28, 351. 

Arkansas State: 199J 229, 244, 351. 

Armstrong, Jack and Hannah: 64, 108. 

Army: comparison of Northern and Southern men, 216; and their officers, 
216-7, 220, 223-4, 350; system of recruiting, 221-3, 363-74; dis- 
cipline, 220, 248, 282, 420-1; size of regular army, 228. See also 
Conscription, Voluntary Service and Militia. 

Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union: 20, 175. 
Atlanta: 226-7, 394"5> 39$, 42-4* 
Augusta: 435. 

Baker: 90. 

Baltimore: 205, 239-42, 453; Conventions there, 159-60, 410-1. 

Banks, N. P., General: 296, 354-5, 389. 

Bates, Attorney-General: 166, 201-2, 264, 320, 405. 

Battles (sieges, campaigns, etc., separately entered) : Antietam, 306-7, 313, 
324-5, 450; Bentonville, 437; Bull Run, first battle, 245-9; Bull 
Run, second battle, 305, 313; Cedar Creek, 396; Champion's Hill f 
355; Chancellorsville, 311-13; Chattanooga, 360; Chickamauga, 
360; Cold Harbour, 393, 410; Five Forks, 446; Fort Donelson, 281; 
Four Oaks, 295; Franklin, 396; Fredericksburg, 309, 313; Gettys- 
burg, 357, 450; Kenesaw Mountain, 394; Manassas (two battles), 
see Bull Run; Mill Springs, 280; Mobile, 395; Murfreesborough, 
343, 450; Nashville, 396; New Orleans, 283; Perryville, 342; 
Sailor's Creek, 447; Seven Days' Battles, 298; Seven Pines, see 
Four Oaks; Shiloh, 282-3; Spottsylvania, 392; Wilderness, 392. 

Bazaine, Marshal: 388. 

Bell, John: 159. - z : v 

Bentham, Jeremy: 32. 

Berry: 66-7. 

Bible: 10, 132, 439-40. 

Bismarck: 424. 

Black: 185. 

Black Hawk: 65. 

Blackstone's Commentaries: 67. 

Blair, Francis, senr. : 432-3. 

Blair, Montgomery: 202, 208, 245, 405, 410. 

Blockade: 224, 226, 251-2, 436. 

Booth, John Wilkes: 451. 

Border States: 171, 228-9, 243-5, 2 70, 318-9, 333-4. 

Boston: 47, 51, 59-60, 172-3. V 

Boswell, James: 102. 

Bragg, General: 340-3, 352, 359-60, 387-8. 

Breckinridge, John C: 159. 



INDEX 467 

Bright, John: 127, 236, 260. 

British Columbia: 28, no. 

Brooks, Phillips: 60. 

Brooks, Preston: 138-9. 

Brown, John: 126, 150-5, 197, 397. 

Brown, Judge: 85. 

Buchanan, James: 113, 138, 140, 141, 177, 184-90, 206, 208, 23X. 

Buell, Don Carlos, General: 274, 276-82, 339-44, 369. 

Bummers: 397. 

Burlingame: 139. 

Burns, Robert: 103, 105. 

Burnside, Ambrose, General: 307, 309, 359-60, 382, 393, 435. 

Burr, Aaron: 29. 

Butler, Benjamin, General: 268, 283, 392-3, 409, 436, 444. 

Butterfield: 95. 

Calhoun, John: 68. 

Calhoun, John Caldwell : his character and influence, 42-5 : his doctrine of 
"nullification" and secession, 45-6; his death, 100; further ref- 
erences, 97, 113, 175, 182. 

California: 28, 91-3, 96-9. 

Cambridge, Massachusetts: 59. 

Cameron, Simon: 166-7, 201-3, 242, 271. 

Campbell, Justice: 210, 446. 

Canada: 176, 211, 383. 

Carolina. See North Carolina and South Carolina. 

Cass, General: 65, 94, 96, 172, 186. 

Castlereagh: 377. 

Cecil, Lord R. See Salisbury. 

Central America: 145. 

Channing, Rev. William Eleroy: 51. 

Charles I.: 433. 

Charleston: 43, 251-3, 387, 435. And see Fort Sumter. 

Chase, Salmon P.: rising opponent of slavery, 101; approves of Lincoln's 
opposition to Douglas, 141; claims to the Presidency, 161, 166; 
Secretary of the Treasury, 201-2; his successful administration of 
finance, 254; regarded as Radical leader, intrigues against Lincoln 
and causes difficulty in Cabinet, 328-9; continues troublesome, de- 
sires Presidency, resigns, 406-8; appointed Chief Justice, 429-30; 
other references, 208, 311, 415. 

Chatham, 20, 234. 

Chattanooga: 226-7, 339-40, 342-3, 359-60, 387-8, 394. 

Chicago: Republican Convention there, 166-9; deputation of clergy, 323; 

Democratic Convention, 41 1-4. 
Choate, Joseph H.: 106, 156. 



4 68 INDEX 

Civil Service: 50. 
Civil War. See War. 
Clary's Grove: 64, 66. 

Clay, Henry: 41; his character and career, 42, 48; compromise of 1850 
originated by him, 99; his death, 100; Lincoln on him, 101, 123. 

Cobb: 185. 

Cobden, Richard: 257-8. 

Cock-fighting: 63, 69. 

Collamer, Senator: 167. 

Colonies. See America. 

Colonisation. See Negroes. 

Columbia, South Carolina: 435. 

Columbia, District of: 94, 319. 

Columbia River: 28. 

Columbus, Georgia: 226-7. 

Compulsory Service. See Conscription. 

Confederacy, Confederates: see also South; Confederacy of six States 
formed and Constitution adopted at Montgomery and claims of 
these States to Federal Government's forts, etc., or their soil taken 
over, 199-201; commencement of war by Confederacy, 212-3; area 
of its country and difficulty of conquest, 214-6; character of popu- 
lation, 216; spirit of independence animating Confederacy, 218-9; 
other conditions telling against or for its success in the war, 214- 
27; original Confederate States, viz., South Carolina, Georgia, 
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, joined subsequently by 
Texas, and on outbreak of war by Virginia, North Carolina, Ten- 
nessee, and Arkansas, 228-9; capital moved to Richmond, 242; for 
course of war, see War; for political course of Confederacy, see 
J. Davis and Congress of Confederacy; attitude of foreign Gov- 
ernments to Confederacy, 256, 261, 302, 313; refusal of Lincoln to 
treat with Confederacy as an independent state, 403, 432-3 ; refusal 
of Davis to negotiate on other terms, 428, 432-3 ; ultimate sur- 
render of Confederate forces and dispersion of its Government, 
445-8. 

Congregationalists: 17, 19. 

Congress of original American Confederation: 20, 38. 

Congress of U.S.A. under the Constitution: distinguished from Parlia- 
ment by the severance between it and the executive government, 
by the limitation of its functions to strictly Federal matters, and 
by its subjection to provisions of Constitution, 23-4, see also 371, 
377-9, 402, 429.; for certain Acts of Congress, see Slavery; attempts 
at pacification during progress of Secession, 192-3 ; action of and 
discussions in Congress during Civil War, 246, 253, 263, 265-6, 269, 
271, 276, 288, 316-9, 321-3, 324-7, 333-6, 351, 369-70, 379, 380, 382, 
388, 389, 400-1, 434. 

Congress of Confederacy: 200, 366-7, 431. 

Conscription: in South: 366-7; in North, 364-5, 369-70; superior on grounds 
of moral principle to voluntary system, 366. 



INDEX 469 

Conservative, the: 119. 
Conservatives: 245, 267-8, 328. 
Constitution, British: 20, 23, 377. 

Constitution of United States: 22-5, 41. See also Amendment of Consti- 
tution. 
Contraband: 268, 409. 
Cooper Institute: 144, 155. 
Copperheads: 382. 
Corinth: 283, 338-9. 
Cotton: 39, 259-60, 313. 
Cow Island: 331. 
Cowper, William: zz. 
Crittenden: 192-5. 
Cuba: 145, 159. 

Cumberland River: 226, 277, 280- Z. 
Curtis, B. R., Justice: 114. 

Darwin, Charles: 138, 259. 
Davis, David, Justice: 167, 379. 
Davis, Henry Winter: 388, 401. 

Davis, Jefferson: his rise as an extreme Southern leader, 101, 138, 150; 
inclined to favour slave trade, 145; his argument for right of Se- 
cession, 176; his part in Secession, 198-200; President of Confed- 
eracy, 200; vetoes Bill against slave trade as inadequate and 
fraudulent, 200; orders attack on Fort Sumter, 212; criticisms upon 
his military policy, 217-8, 387-8; his part in the war, 246, 355, 
387-8, 395, 431, 433, 446; his determination to hold out and his atti- 
tude to peace, 403-4, 431-4; as to prisoners of war, 330, 399; escape 
from Richmond and last public action, 446; his capture, and his 
emotions on Lincoln's assassination, 452-3 ; his memoirs, 453, 460. 

Dayton, Senator: 167. 

Declaration of Independence: meaning of its principles, 32-5; how slave- 
holders signed it, 35-9; Lincoln's interpretation of it, 123; his great 
speech upon it, 184. 

Delaware: 17, 198, 318, 334. 

Democracy: fundamental ideas in it, 32-9, 123; development of extreme 
form and of certain abuses of it in America, 47-50; its institutions 
and practices still in an early stage of development, 50; a foolish 
perversion of it in the Northern States, 59, 218; Lincoln sees a 
decay of wprthy and honest democratic feeling, 117; the Civil 
War regarded by Lincoln and many in North as a test whether 
democratic government could maintain itself, 183-4, 362-3, 425; the 
sense in which Lincoln was a great democrat, 455-6. 

Democratic Party: traces descent from Jefferson, 30; originated or started 
anew by Jackson, its principles, 47-8 ; general subservience of its 
leaders to Southern interests, 91, no, 140, see also Mexico, Pierce, 
Douglas, Buchanan; breach between Northern and Southern Demo- 



470 INDEX 

crats, 141, 148-50, 157-9; Northern Democrats loyal to Union, 
172-4, 177, 188, 231; progress of Democratic opposition to Lincoln, 
267, 316, 374-5, 381-5, 401, 411-5; Lincoln's appeal after defeating 
them, 425. 

Dickens, Charles: 31, 32, 41, 259. 
Disraeli, Benjamin: 74, 260. 
Dough-Faces: 40. 

Douglas, Stephen: rival to Lincoln in Illinois Legislature, 71; possibly 
also in love, 81, 87; his rise, influence, and character, 101, 110-1; 
repeals Missouri Compromise, 110-1; supports rights of Kansas, 
115, 140; Lincoln's contest with him, 121-2, 132-7, 140-9; gist of 
Lincoln's objection to his principles, 130, 142-5; unsuccessful can- 
didate for Presidency, 159, 168-9; attitude to Secession, 188; rela- 
tions with Lincoln after Secession, 206, 210, 231; death, 231. 

Douglass, Frederick: 332. 

Drink: 63, 76-7, 353, 423. 
Dundreary: 451. 

Early, General: 394, 395, 438. 

Eaton, John: 330-2, 347, 416, 461. 

Edmonds. See Wood and Edmonds. 

Edwards, Mrs. Ninian: 81. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo: 60, 152, 426. 

Episcopalians: 85, 351, 440. 

Equality. See Declaration of Independence. 

Euclid: 104, 132. 

Everett, Edward: 159, 362. 

Farragut, David, Admiral: 231, 283, 349, 388, 395, 412, 424, 435, 

Federalism: 22. 

Federalist Party: 30, 173. 

Filibustering: (1) in sense of piracy: 194. 

(2) in sense of obstruction: 333. 

Fillmore, Millard: 99, 112, 114, 133. 

Finance: 67-8, 254. 

Florida: 16, 26, 199, 251, 453. 

Fort Donelson: 280-1. 

Fort Fisher: 436. 

Fort Henry: 281. 

Fort Monroe: 268, 292. 

Fort Sumter: 187-90, 201, 208, 210, 212-3, 228, 449. 

Fox, Gustavus V.: 202, 252-3, 264. 

France: influence of French Revolution, 31; Louisiana territory acquired 
from France, 26; French settlers, 27; slavery in Louisiana State, 
39-40; relations with America during Civil War, 211, 256, 262, 
313, 388, 404, 420. 



INDEX 471 

Frankfort, Kentucky: 340. 

Franklin, Benjamin: 37. 

Franklin, Tennessee: 396-7. 

Free-Soil Party: 111. 

Free Trade: 45, 258. 

Fremont, John: 112, 133, 269-70, 274, 277, 296-7, 316, 409-10. 

Fry, J. B., General: 370. 

Garrison, William Lloyd: 50-2, 336. 

Gentryville: 4, 6, 7. 

Gettysburg, Lincoln's speech at: 363. 

Georgia: 36, 56, 199, 226, 396-7. 

George II.: 353. 

Gibbon, Edward: 67. 

Gilmer: 194. 

Gladstone, W. E.: 258. 

Goldsborough: 437, 444. 

Governors of States: 20, 161, 222, 299, 343-5, 362. 

Graham, Mentor: 63, 64, 68. 

Grant, Ulysses S., General: previous disappointing career and return to 
Army, earlier success in Civil War, 280; captures Fort Henry and 
Fort Donelson, surprised but successful at Shiloh, 280-4; negro 
refugees with his army, 330; kept idle as Halleck's second in com- 
mand, and on his departure left on defensive near Corinth, 339, 
342; his reputation now and his real greatness of character, 345-8; 
Vicksburg campaigns, 348-55 ; Lincoln's relations with him from 
the first, 352-3; Chattanooga campaign, 359-60; appointed Lieu- 
tenant General, meeting with Lincoln, parting from Sherman, 
389-90; plans for final stages of war, 390; unsuccessful attempts 
to crush Lee in the open field and movement to City Point for 
siege of Petersburg and Richmond in which first operations fail, 
391-2; sends Sheridan to Shenandoah Valley, 393-4; unnecessary 
anxiety as to Thomas, 397; siege of Petersburg and Richmond 
continued, 398; attempts to get him to run for Presidency, 410-11; 
his loyalty to Lincoln, 416-7; his wish to promote peace, 433; fur- 
ther progress of siege, 436, 437-8; Lincoln's visit to him at City 
Point, 443-5; forbidden to treat with Lee on political questions, 
445; fall of Richmond, 445-6; Lee forced to surrender, 446-8; last 
interview with Lincoln, 449-50; Memoirs, 459. 

Granville, Earl: 260. 

Gray, Asa: 138. 

Great Britain and Ireland: early relations with U.S.A., 16-20; relative 
progress of the two countries at different periods, 32, 33, 38; Eng- 
lish views of American Revolution, 21, see Constitution of Great 
Britain and U.S.A.; war in 1812-14 with U.S.A., 42, 46, 273; com- 
parisons of English and American Government, 49, 50; relations 
of the two countries in the Civil War, 211, 256-65, 313; voluntary 



472 INDEX 

system of recruiting in the two countries and its result in each, 
364-6, 370; Lincoln's fame in England, 454. 

Greeley, Horace: 137, 143, 245, 322-3» 4°4' 

Greene, Bowline: 79. 

Greensborough: 437, 452. 

Grigsby, Reuben, and family: 6, 11, 12. 

Grimes, Senator: 194. 

Halleck, Henry W., General: 274, 277-84, 297-8, 301-2, 306, 309, 338-43, 

349, 356, 395- 
Hamilton, Alexander: his greatness, 29; his origin and career, he brings 

the Union Government into successful operation, his beautiful and 

heroic character, 29-30; original source of Monroe doctrine, 385; 

other references, 34, 37; his view on construction of Statutes, 

377-8. 
Hampton Roads: 433. 
Hanks, Dennis: 4, 6, 420. 
Hanks, John: 4, 6, 14, 166. 
Hanks, Joseph: 4. 
Harcourt, Lady: 417. 
Hardin: 90. 

Harper's Ferry: 151, 239. 
Harrison, William Henry: 72. 
Harrison's Landing: 298-302. 
Harvard: 59, 330, 444. 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel: 101. 
Hay, John: 235, 419, 458, 461. 
Hayne, Senator: 45. 
Henderson, Colonel: 221. 

Herndon, William: 66 t 79, 87, 94, 102-3, *o$, "9, 126, 142 147, 165. 
Hood, John B., General: 394, 396-7. 
Hooker, Joseph, General: 309-11, 355-6, 360, 362. 
House of Commons. See Parliament. 
House of Lords: 33. 

House of Representatives. See Congress of U.S.A. 
Houston, Governor: 199. 
Hugo, Victor: 152. 
Hunter, General: 321, 395. 
Hymns: 11, 440. 



Illinois, 27, 38, Chapters I., III., IV., 1 and 3, and V., 1, 3, and 5; 344, 

35o. 
Inaugural Address: Lincoln's first, 206-7; his second, 441-3; Jefferson 

Davis', 200- x. 



INDEX 473 

Inaugural Ceremony: Lincoln's first, 206; Lincoln's second, 438. 

Independence. See Declaration of Independence. 

Independents. See Congregationalists. 

Indiana: 4, 9, 27, 38, 345. 

Indians, North American: 3, 65. 

Iowa: 27, 194. 

Ironclads: 252. 

Jackson, Andrew: his opinion of Calhoun, 43; frustrates movement for 
nullification, 46; his character, 46; revives party and promotes 
growth of party machinery, and adopts " spoils system," 46-49 ; 
other references, 66, 173, 209, 409. 

Jackson, Thomas J., called "Stonewall," General: his acknowledged 
genius, 217, 220; goes with State of Virginia, 229; his character, 
230; Shenandoah Valley campaign and movement to outflank Mc- 
Clellan, 295-8 ; Antietam campaign, 305 ; killed during victory of 
Chancellorsville, 311; Lee's estimate of his loss, 357. 

James, Henry: 461. 

James River: 292, 298, 392-3, 438, 447. 

Jefferson, Thomas: curious and displeasing character, 30; great and last- 
ing influence on American life, 30-2; practical achievements in 
statesmanship, 32; real sense and value of his doctrine, 32-5; 
opinion and action as to slavery, 37-8; other references, 28, 46, 
56, 179- 

Jiggers: 331. 

Johnson, Andrew: 400, 411, 451, 453. 

Johnson, Samuel: 33, 35. 

Johnston, Albert Sidney, General: 276-7, 281-2. 

Johnston, John: 4, 6, 14. 

Johnston, Joseph, General: 218, 247-8, 287-8, 295, 354-5, 378, 387, 39°, 
394, +36-7, 453- 

Kansas: 110-2, 115, 117, 126, 128, 139-40, 162-3. 

Kentucky: 2-5, 9, 26, 81, 192, 197, 225, 229, 270, 334, 339"43- 

Kipling, Rudyard: 88. 

Kirkham's Grammar: 63. 

" Know-Nothings." See American Party. 

Knoxville: 226, 275, 359. 

Law, Lincoln's law study and practice, 10, 67, 68, 106-8, 271-2, 423. 

Lee, Robert E., General: his acknowledged genius, 217, 220; goes with 
State of Virginia, 229, 239, 376; his character, 230; cautious mili- 
tary advice at first, 246; opinion of McClellan, 285; operations 
against McClellan, Pope, Burnside, and Hooker, 297, 311; inva- 
sion of Pennsylvania and retreat, 355-8, 386-7; resistance to Grant, 
see Grant, 391-2, 398; appointed General in Chief, 431; abstains 
always from political action, 431-2; final effort, surrender and 
later life, 445-6. 



474 INDEX 

Lincoln, Abraham, President: his career and policy up to his Presidency, 
see in Table of Contents; his military administration and policy, 
2 73 _ 9> 3° 2 > 3°8, 345, and see McClellan; his administration gen- 
erally, 250-5 ; his foreign policy, 261-5 ; his policy generally, 265-72, 
and see Slavery, Negotiations for Peace, Reconstruction; devel- 
opment of his abilities and character, 7-15, 62, 73-7, 87-8, 103-6, 
134-6, 153-5, 163-6, 233-9, 337, 418-24, 439-4 1 ; his fame to-day, 
454-6. 

Lodge, Senator: 261. 

Logan, General: 350, 397. 

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth: 53, 60, 61, 137, 152. 

Longstreet, General: 357, 359-60, 387. 

Louisiana Purchase: 26, 32, 39-40. 

Louisiana State